The investment in basic sanitation in rural areas of Guatemala is very low. This results in gastrointestinal infections being commonplace and affecting both adults and children alike, although the severity of these illnesses is greater in children. Chronic childhood malnutrition is caused and exacerbated by a diverse array of factors, but one of the most significant is the high incidence of diarrhea that children suffer from throughout the year. Studies show that in the Guatemalan highlands children and adolescents experience up to 6 episodes of diarrhea annually which, aside from putting one’s life at risk, affects their nutrition due to the uncontrollable loss of nutrients.
The proper disposal of human waste is a key contributor to reducing the risk of contracting gastrointestinal illnesses and recovering optimal nutrition. In Chuachalí, materials have been delivered for the construction of ecological latrines that will take place in the coming weeks. This is just one part of our comprehensive WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) program that aims to improve living conditions of the residents of our partner communities in order to reduce indices of chronic childhood malnutrition. This, in combination with programs that address food access via improved agricultural practices, family gardens, nutrition education and community empowerment training work together to form a comprehensive and integrated approach designed to produce sustainable, community driven, lasting results.