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Food shortages in Maya communities due to quarantine orders - GSP response to COVID-19 - April/May 2020

Around the world, the Coronavirus pandemic is causing grave concern due to the very high numbers of confirmed positive cases and mounting deaths. In Guatemala the first case of COVID-19 appeared mid March and as of mid April there were 196 cases and 5 deaths. There is worry that as seasonal workers return from Mexico and USA to Guatemala, there will be a surge in cases.

The situation is intensified by the high rates of poverty and the governmental restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Curfews have been implemented, public transportation suspended, markets shut down and business and work activities prohibited. For the already marginalized indigenous population this means a severe shortage of food and medicine.

During this unprecedented pandemic, GSP decided to send emergency funds to our three partners CEDEC, AMI and AMMID to at least mitigate some of the most crucial food shortages. One partner states “indigenous communities are the most affected in this case because they cannot sell the products they harvest and the markets have shrunk dramatically”. Another writes that (la gente estamos) “muy preocupado por la situación, principalmente porque afuera está el coronavirus y adentro el hambre que azote a muchas familias por falta de alimentos y trabajo” that is, people are very worried because of the threat of the coronoavirus and the hunger which assaults them because of lack of food and work.

A young family waiting for food and supply distribution

In response to their proposals, $7000 was sent to each of our partners to buy basic food items as black beans, corn, rice, Incaparina, sugar, oats, and cooking oil and some medicine. After purchase of food items in bulk, it is transported to the affected communities and divided into bags for distribution to families. In all, more than 300 families will have a degree of food security for one to two months.

Clara Colop, far left, oversees the division of supplies for family distribution

The arduous task of carrying much needed food to families


Parasitic worms are present in the soil and can live and replicate in the gastrointestinal system. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue and diminished pursuit of normal activities. Children are particularly affected as they play on the ground and may ingest dirt. CEDEC and AMI each held a medical day where children from all over the community were dewormed and sick people treated.    

Health worker distributing supplies of medicine for children

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