We work with partner organisations to address Guatemala's economic inequality (through focusing on democratic governance and economic justice), help communities prepare for natural disasters and promote non-violent alternatives to conflict, and tackle gender-based violence.
Christian Aid works in four countries in Central America – Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. We work with around 15 partner organisations, from community-based groups to larger organisations operating across the region and beyond.
Our partners include indigenous communities, small farmers’ associations, development organisations, women and feminist organisations, research institutions and faith-based organisations. We have strong links with sister ecumenical agencies, Norwegian Church Aid, Lutheran World Federation, Bread for the World, Church of Sweden, and we work together with these agencies in the Jotay ACT joint programme.
Despite being considered a middle-income country, many people in Guatemala live in extreme poverty. It is a country of contrasts: flooding and drought, wealth and poverty, agricultural exports and food shortages.
Half of all children under five are malnourished, which permanently affects physical and mental development. Also, the legal minimum wage does not even cover the basic food basket, and a high percentage of the working population does not even earn minimum wage (about 70% of workers are in the informal economy, where there is no regulation).
Almost twenty-five years after the signing of Guatemala’s Peace Agreement (which put an end to a 36-year civil war), poverty, violence, environmental vulnerability and widespread inequality remain serious challenges for the country.
- To contribute to the transformation of those structures and institutions that exacerbate and perpetuate inequality against women and girls, indigenous peoples and afro descendants.
- To promote climate justice for poor communities engaging with smallholders and subsistence farmers in mitigation and adaptation strategies from a humanitarian – development perspective,
- To challenge the structural causes of climate change from local to global level based on the Paris Agreement framework and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
- To promote peacebuilding ensuring access to justice, violence prevention, human rights promotion and demanding that State institutions are held accountable.
In Guatemala we work on...
Through our partners, we focus on citizen participation based on a rights-based approach, that is, ensuring that all members of the community are able to participate. We particularly focus on social auditing work with indigenous women. Partners promote tax justice as a way to ensure fair public spending and access for all to essential public services.
From violence to peace
While Guatemala has a weak justice system and access to justice is not equal to all people, Guatemala has very high levels of crime and gang violence which affect security and the rule of law. Women and young people are even more vulnerable because of gender-based violence and the exclusion of young people. Both groups face high unemployment and poor access to healthcare, education and culture.
Gender and inclusion
Guatemala has one of the highest levels of femicide worldwide, as well as frightening rates of pregnancy in girls, some as young as 10 years old. The State is massively deficient in guaranteeing the rights of women and girls to a life without violence, and often is even complicit. Christian Aid’s partners in Guatemala give comprehensive accompaniment and support to women who are survivors of gender-based violence.
ICEFI believes that better taxation can be one solution to the problem of inequality. Its research, advocacy and lobbying work shows how a more progressive tax system in Guatemala and greater transparency in the international financial system could tackle poverty. ICEFI was a key advocate for progressive tax reform approved by the Guatemalan parliament in 2012. Similar work is now being developed in Nicaragua and El Salvador, using learning from the Guatemalan experience.
Promote non-violent alternatives to conflict
Caja Lúdica uses tools that promote participation, advocacy, the arts and pacifism as a peaceful way to bring change in urban communities where young people have few social and economic options and can fall into violence and crime. Caja Lúdica’s approach is innovative. Their activities not only promote artistic skills, but they also influence others, build confidence, self-esteem, self-awareness, teamwork, tolerance and interpersonal skills. In a country torn apart by violence and exclusion, its work is vital.