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UPDATE: U.S. Government Acts to Ameliorate Guatemala Malnutrition Crisis
Date:11/19/2009

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, Nov. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Seeking to combat the food security crisis in Guatemala's Dry Corridor, which is located in the country's eastern region, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced plans to provide $15 million in emergency assistance Nov. 19.

USAID's Guatemala Mission Director Wayne R. Nilsestuen and the U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala Stephen G. McFarland announced the U.S. government's intent while meeting with Guatemalan government officials and municipal mayors in the department of Chiquimula.

The emergency assistance will be used in five of the seven regions that the Guatemalan government identified as requiring urgent attention: Chiquimula, El Progreso, Jalapa, Jutiapa, and Zacapa. Assistance will also reach high risk communities in the highland areas of Huehuetenango and Chimaltenango where increased cases of acute malnutrition have been reported.

Expressing his concern over the devastating effects of chronic malnutrition on Guatemala's children, Nilsestuen said "the current food security crisis is an urgent call for concerted and coordinated action to provide immediate relief to people in need and to lay the groundwork for a rural development program that will eliminate malnutrition in a country that has the resources to feed all its citizens."

The main target recipients are children under five years old and women who are breastfeeding and/or pregnant. Approximately 7,600 metric tons of food will be distributed to a total of 41,050 families in 365 communities. USAID/Guatemala's four existing food security implementing partners: Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Mercy Corps, Save the Children/USA and SHARE Guatemala will coordinate the U.S. government's activities with the Guatemalan national disaster reduction entity and the United Nations as well as with other organizations working to ameliorate the food security crisis.

"Malnutrition is chronic in Guatemala. It is well past time for all elements of society and government to use the many resources the country has to eliminate malnutrition altogether. Particular attention must be paid to pregnant and lactating women and small children because they are the ones who need it most to build healthy, intelligent and productive citizens that will allow Guatemala to fulfill its enormous potential said McFarland."

The U.S. government, through USAID, has provided Guatemala with food security assistance as well as integrated programs to reduce poverty and improve basic health for families, particularly mothers and children.

For more information about USAID, visit www.usaid.gov.

Public Information: 202-712-4810

SOURCE U.S. Agency for International Development


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SOURCE U.S. Agency for International Development
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