Red alert over malnutrition in Guatemala: Official

GUATEMALA CITY (AFP) – Climate change and Covid-19 have sent impoverished Guatemala into one of its worst food security crises, the country’s top human rights official said on Saturday (Oct 16).

The problems are so severe that 39 children have died of malnutrition so far this year, human rights ombudsman Jordan Rodas said in the Central American country’s capital.

“Guatemala is facing a grim outlook in terms of meeting (United Nations) Millennium Development Goals, especially zero hunger,” which seeks to reduce poverty by 2030, Mr Rodas said at an event marking World Food Day.

Mr Rodas also said 16 per cent of the almost 17 million Guatemalans suffer from malnutrition, 18 per cent live in severe food insecurity and 45 per cent in a situation of moderate food insecurity.

According to UN data, almost 50 per cent of children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition in Guatemala, the highest rate in Latin America.

In the first nine months of this year, 39 girls and boys under the age of five died from acute malnutrition, Mr Rodas said.

It is “one of the biggest food and nutritional insecurity crises due to the effects caused by Covid-19 and climate phenomena such as storms Eta and Iota” last year, which left dozens of deaths, destruction of subsistence crops and damage to infrastructure, he said.

Mr Rodas urged President Alejandro Giammattei to undertake “an aggressive and efficient policy aimed at guaranteeing the right to food for the population that is food-insecure.”

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