Global Communities (formerly operating as PCI) has worked with Guatemalan communities for over four decades to reduce vulnerabilities and shape stronger futures. Through our collaborative programs and partnerships in Huehuetenango and other districts, Global Communities implements programs that respond to natural disasters and cyclical climatic shocks, increase student achievement, improve the health and well-being of women and children and transform high-risk urban settlements into more resilient neighborhoods.

As the most populous country in Central America, Guatemala faces a combination of situational and environmental challenges including food insecurity, child malnutrition, low literacy rates, cyclical climatic shocks, natural disasters and health crises. In Guatemala’s Western Highlands, over 75% of the population lives in poverty and over two-thirds of children are chronically malnourished. As food insecurity has deepened due to persistent drought, migration to the United States has continued to increase.

Global Communities partners with parents, teachers, students and local leaders to plant climate-smart gardens, increase access to healthy meals at school, and adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change on lives and livelihoods. 

When faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked with community leaders to quickly share accurate information about hand-washing, personal protective equipment and mask-wearing. A team of trusted sources tracked down rumors on social media to replace them with reliable health information.

For nearly a decade, Global Communities' signature Women Empowered program has supported Guatemalan women as they direct their own economic and social empowerment.

Women’s Economic & Social Empowerment

Since 2012, Global Communities has implemented the Women Empowered (WE) initiative in Guatemala, an integrated economic and social empowerment program that organizes women into groups where they pool their own resources, engage in productive activities and discuss community and social issues of mutual concern. Once established and operational, WE groups become a sustainable, ongoing business and economic development platform that is entirely managed by the members themselves. To date, over 1,126 WE groups have been formed in rural and urban areas throughout Guatemala, reaching approximately 18,190 women and investing more than $858,000 in the health, education and productivity of Guatemalan families.

Transforming Urban, High-Risk Neighborhoods

With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), Global Communities is developing innovative, scalable methodologies for upgrading high-risk informal urban settlements into safer, healthier and more resilient neighborhoods. Based on Global Communities’ Neighborhood Approach, which was used to respond to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the Barrio Mio project in Guatemala focuses on reducing vulnerability to crises before they happen. By convening a broad range of partners, including ministries, municipalities, private sector partners, universities and communities, Barrio Mio has developed and scaled strategies to upgrade high risk informal settlements and improve integrated urban emergency response. Barrio Mio has now scaled to seven municipalities throughout Guatemala and has the support of over 40 partners. The methodology has been adopted by the Government of Guatemala as the national policy for emergency response and urban upgrading.

Improving Food Security & COVID-19 Response

Since 2019, Global Communities has been working to mitigate the impact of extreme drought conditions in highly vulnerable households in Huehuetenango through various USAID-funded emergency food security programs. Through these programs, Global Communities has increased access to food for 6,400 households, with a focus on pregnant women, new mothers and children who are malnourished, through the delivery of cash transfers accompanied by training sessions to promote and support good nutrition, health and hygiene practices.

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Guatemala. An estimated 9,500 people died of the coronavirus as of July 2021. Clustered COVID-19 outbreaks continue to shut down markets, schools and other communal spaces, compounding the persistent poverty and income inequality that already exist in the disaster-prone area. 

Through Project Sigamos, Global Communities is helping to increase community access to nutritious food through cash transfers and community development activities such as establishing family gardens, producing and marketing pylons and smallholder poultry farms, and the creation of learning centers for vegetable production. Project Sigamos also seeks to improve preventive health practices, including an emphasis on stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Increasing Student Achievement & Health

Since 2010, Global Communities has implemented integrated school feeding projects in Guatemala with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program (McGovern-Dole). In 2017, Global Communities’ McGovern-Dole project, called EDUCAMOS, began its third phase of programming and continues to be implemented alongside the Guatemalan Ministry of Education and literacy partner Juárez & Associates. EDUCAMOS aims to improve the literacy of school-age girls and boys, as well as increase the use of health and nutrition practices in 294 schools, benefiting more than 63,000 students in six municipalities of Huehuetenango. 

Key strategies of the program are training teachers in bilingual literacy techniques and materials, strengthening the capacities of principals in school leadership and management, and the development of a University Diploma in Literacy in Bilingual and Intercultural Environments. To date, more than 100,000 textbooks and other educational materials have been provided to students, 217 school gardens have been established, 345 projects have been developed to support the construction and rehabilitation of school infrastructure and more than 66,000 people,  including mothers, fathers, teachers and students, have been trained in child health and nutrition practices.

Global Communities also leads the Nuestra Cosecha project in partnership with Catholic Relief Services and Save the Children. Nuestra Cosecha incorporates locally-grown fresh fruits, vegetables and eggs into school meals for more than 10,000 students by linking local farmers with 52 elementary schools in the departments of Huehuetenango, Quiché and Totonicapán. 

This USDA-funded Local and Regional Procurement program aims to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the purchase and delivery processes of fresh products for school meals and to further develop the capacities of parents’ organizations, food commissions, school directors and farmers to strengthen the transition to a national school feeding program based on local markets, within the framework of the School Feeding Law approved in 2017.

Rebuilding After Natural Disasters

In response to needs that arose in the department of Huehuetenango following back-to-back hurricanes in 2020, Global Communities is implementing the Responding to the Storm for Increased Resilience (RETOMAR) Emergency Project in the western highlands of Guatemala. With support from USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA), RETOMAR seeks to meet the urgent needs of 3,060 affected families in 61 communities of five municipalities.

The intervention includes the formation of volunteer networks, providing multipurpose assistance, facilitating better living conditions through the rehabilitation of houses, improving access to drinking water and non-food items, sanitation and hygiene, and granting multipurpose unconditional cash transfers. Additionally, in response to the need for each municipality to have a municipal atlas, we have worked in coordination with the municipalities to generate maps of basins and rivers that contribute to making better decisions to reduce the risk of disasters.

Engaging Men in Women’s Economic Advancement

Global Communities (formerly PCI) partnered with Promundo-US to involve men as allies in a women’s economic development project in the municipality of Cuilco, Guatemala. Over the course of eight months, from March to October of 2021, Journeys of Transformation-Guatemala targeted the spouses or partners of women participating in community-based savings groups supported by Global Communities’ Women Empowered (WE) initiative. A total of 98 male participants from nine communities in Cuilco attended a series of facilitated group discussions that aimed to challenge harmful gender attitudes and behaviors and provide opportunities to redefine what it means to be a supportive partner. Some sessions were conducted with couples to promote non-violent, open communication and shared decision-making. Topics and activities included examining and practicing new skills around couples’ communication, household decision-making, budgeting, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and violence prevention and response.

A Home for Maternal & Child Health

For two decades, Casa Materna (Mother’s House) has provided outreach services, education, clinical services, gynecological care, low-cost medicine, sexual and reproductive health services (including cervical pap smear and colposcopy for early detection of cervical cancer), and an inpatient facility for women with high-risk pregnancies. Each year, Global Communities trains hundreds of community health workers, including traditional midwives, to identify women with high-risk pregnancies and refer them to Casa Materna for care, monitoring and later referral to the Huehuetenango Regional Hospital for a safe delivery. 

Casa Materna has provided more than 100,000 indigenous Mayan women with high quality and culturally sensitive reproductive health care and enabled more than 13,000 safe deliveries. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, a remote care service has been implemented through telemedicine, which has made it possible to provide more than 3,000 teleconsultations and train more than 6,000 users through telephone calls and instant messaging, including midwives or midwives technically trained from the Ministry of Health.

A Bright Future for Ana: How School Meal Programs Change Lives

9,640

households have benefited from increased access to food

1,126

Women Empowered groups formed in rural and urban areas throughout Guatemala, reaching approximately 18,190 women and investing more than $858,000

63,000

students in 294 primary schools receiving a healthy meal every school day

100,000

Indigenous Mayan women have accessed reproductive health care

NEWS

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