Argos, Guatemala – Prenatal Maternal Care and Child Malnutrition

This is a grant in partnership with other Rotary clubs sponsoring a Rotary International Global grant in partnershiip with Agros.  The following are excerpts from the Global Grant application that describe the project.

The target beneficaries of this grant are sixteen rural indigenous Ixil communities located in the municipalities San Gaspar Chajul, Santa Maria Nebaj, and San Juan Cotzal, which form an area known as the Ixil Triangle. This name was given to the region by the army during the Guatemalan Civil War (1960-1996), and because of the cruelties enacted there, the area is also known by the disturbing epithet the Death Triangle.  The project targets as direct beneficiaries poor and extremely poor families suffering from severe and chronic malnourishment with particular focus on pregnant women and their children up to five years old. The project will operate in nearby rural neighborhoods part of the municipalities of Santa Maria Nebaj and San Juan Cotzal, where the incidence of chronic malnourishment among kids below five years old is as high as 80-100%. 

The Ixil Triangle is a small region in the northern highlands of Guatemala. An area primarily inhabited by indigenous Ixil people, a Mayan-descendant ethnic group with a population of approximately 120,000. The local poverty rate is among the highest in the hemisphere (82 percent) much higher compared to the national average of 59%. Guatemala also suffers the highest level of malnutrition in Latin America and the fourth highest in the world. The impact of chronic malnutrition on children is especially tragic among the Ixil. Approximately 75 percent of Ixil children under the age of five show stunted growth due to chronic food insecurity, and the child and maternal mortality rates are among the highest in Latin America.

The project would address:

1. Households food insecurity and lack of access to nutritious food. 2. Insufficient access to maternal health and prenatal monitoring and care. 3. Lack of economic opportunities directed to women to support household income diversification. 4. Poor agricultural yields from subsistence farming, and would not address: 

1. The collapse of the public Guatemalan health system and the minimal capacities of the local health authorities. 2. Deficient housing and inadequate basic services. 3. Increase of political participation by minorities.

The goals of the project are:

Primary goal: To create a supportive environment that ensures adequate maternal and newborn health in the Ixil Region.

Secondary goals: a) Increase food security and nutritional intake for the most vulnerable families in the Ixil Region. b) Increase and diversify household income through women oriented revenue generating initiatives’ c) Strengthen local health care capacities by establishing a network of community health workers to help mothers receive proper attention and monitor child growth.

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