Our work in Guatemala

Published: 3 June 2009 Updated: 4 April 2016

Good opportunities for continued peace and poverty reduction. That is the aim of Sweden’s support to Guatemala. We consequently focus on the rights of poor people and on development perspectives.

Sidas work in Guatemala is based on the Strategy for development cooperation with Guatemala 2008-2016. A new strategy is scheduled for 2016.

Because the state in Guatemala is weak, we are co-operating with several partners, for example civil society, UN organisations and other international players. At the same time, we are working to support Guatemala’s government in taking a greater responsibility to reduce poverty. We are also trying to improve the co-ordination between different donor organisations working in the country.

Democracy and human rights – a contradictory development

There are several examples of progress as well as setbacks in the development. There are positive tendencies within the legal system. Several leaders of the organized crime linked to drug trafficking have been arrested in recent years. A number of widespread corruption charges linked to illegal structures within and outside the state and driven processes related to violations during the internal armed conflict have also gained a lot of attention in 2015, which has lead to the Guatemalan people now demands reforms and action against corruption.  

CICIG (Comision Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala  - International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala), is one significant achievement that Sweden has financed in cooperation with other donors. The commission has been a crucial factor in the reduction of impunity for murder, and to initiate the clean out of illegal power structures in the country's institutions. We also support PAJUST, the UNDP programme of transitional justice, which has contributed to putting high-ranking military officers on trial for crimes against humanity, committed during the country’s internal armed conflict (1960-1996 ).

Women’s and indigenous people’s abilities to exercise their human rights are still insufficient, although some progress has been made. Sida is supporting government agencies and the civil society to promote their participation in the political sector and to prevent violence against women.

Economic growth for all

The majority of the country's poor live in rural areas and belong to the Guatemalan indigenous people. More than half of the children in rural areas are chronically malnourished.

Through our support, we are contributing to improving the economic conditions for women and indigenous people in rural areas. The FDLG programme provides better access to credit for housing and business-oriented activities. This makes it easier for households to generate an income - which can be used for better food and health. Microcredit for housing can also be used to build safer homes that better withstand natural disasters. Through microcredit, women can get a stronger independent economic role and start up small businesses. We also support the UN agencies FAO, WHO and UNDP in their joint programme for rural development with the purpose to increase e.g small-scale product diversification, improved working practices and business development, which promote economic sustainability and food security.


According to the latest UN monitoring report on the Millenium Development Goals, Guatemala demonstrates both progress and challenges in terms of the health situation in the country. Among the advances that can be noted is the decline in the proportion of malnourished children since 2010. Maternal mortality and child mortality have also shown a positive trend since 2010. However, Guatemala still has the highest percentage of chronically malnourished children in the Latin American region .

The Swedish support to the health sector, which was phased out in 2014, was an important part of the work with human rights, especially in the political dialogue on women’s sexual rights. Swedish support has also led to some reduction in infant mortality and maternal mortality in some areas. After 2014, work continues on women's sexual and reproductive rights in the framework of programs in the field of democracy and human rights.

Page owner: Department for Europe and Latin America

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