In two years, Leonzos knowledge has changed the very nature of his world. Where it was previously dry and dead, lots of edible crops and vegetables are now grown.
Photo: Ylva Sahlstrand
Better agriculture with more crops and organic manure
In total, 14.5 million people live in Guatemala, with over half of them living in poverty. Seven out of ten of the Mayan population live without the most basic needs and rights.
Many of these live in San Marcos – one of the country's most populated provinces (from a total of 22). The area has suffered hard from the 36 year long internal armed conflict and also from natural disasters. The hurricane Stan in 2005 caused great havoc in San Marcos. Houses and institutions collapsed and crops were destroyed. The consequences were increased malnutrition, illness and conflicts over land.
After Stan, the international community intervened with extra support for reconstructions. Development Rural Program is a continuation of these efforts but takes a better overall approach. The UN's agricultural, health and development programmes – FAO, WHO and the UNDP – cooperate and link the programme to Guatemala's national plan for zero tolerance against hunger as well as the peace agreement from 1996.
The programme, in Spanish, Programa Conjunto (the joint programme), is based on reducing vulnerability together with perspectives with regard to democracy and human rights, health and sustainable economic development. The Bravo family in San Marcos in Sibinal is an example of how a family can drive development forward by disseminating knowledge about, among other things, productive farming for an increased income.
The development programme "Programa Conjunto" or "Broad Rural Development Program", coordinated by SNU, Sistema le las Naciones Unidas through the UNDP, WHO and FAO with the support of Sida. National and local councils also participate so that the inhabitants can collaborate on different issues that affect their community. Both the Ministry of Health and the ministry of Agriculture are involved in the programme.
Sida is supporting the programme with a total of SEK 40 million between 2010 and 2013.
- In 2011, the Ministry of Health and of Agriculture together with the planning department in Guatemala began to analyse the health and living conditions of 1,500 families in this area.
- The programme covers five municipalities with 190,000 inhabitants. Within the municipalities, the programme works with 56 smaller priority communities where the need is greatest.
- The collaboration between the inhabitants and representatives from the municipalities has reduced conflicts.
- Approximately 2,600 families receive special attention and more direct support in their rehabilitation of housing, agriculture and food production as well as water plants.
- These "focus families" work as educators of other families – for example, with agricultural methods to increase income.
- 2,000 families make use of new methods that protect the soil from landslides.
- 2,047 families have improved their production systems through diversification, other grains, soil conservation and integrated plant protection as well as the use of organic fertiliser.
- Through the dissemination of knowledge, the inhabitants in the area receive support from the municipalities for basic services, such as access to clean water and physical accommodation planning.
- Through improved accommodation, more nutritional food and increased income, the health of those families participating in the programme has improved significantly.
- The Bravo family is an example of a family who has educated 28 other families in the Sibinal community.
- All of these families have achieved improvements in their living conditions as well as an increase in income.