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News Organizations Examine Guatemalan Drought, Malnutrition

McClatchy/Chicago Tribune examines the “worst drought in 30 years” in Guatemala, which “has destroyed 80 percent of the region’s crops and claimed the lives of more than a dozen children so far this year.” Malnutrition among children in the country “has long been a major problem, and rates are especially high in rural areas,” according to the news service. “Almost half of Guatemala’s children younger than 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition, among the highest rates in the world, according to UNICEF.”

The drought could worsen this ongoing problem because it struck at a time of “severe soil erosion,” high food prices, spreading disease and “a drop in remittances due to the global economic crisis,” McClatchy/Chicago Tribune writes. After “reports of malnutrition-related deaths, the government and aid agencies delivered emergency food supplies to more than 300,000 families. And Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile and other countries shipped in beans, corn and other food staples.”

The drought might have already damaged crops of up to 410,000 families, Guatemalan officials estimate, adding that some families have lost almost 80 percent of annual corn and bean yields, a total loss of $80 million. Earlier this year, President Alvaro Colom called the situation a “public calamity” (Daniel, 10/8). 

In related news, Worldfocus aired a radio show that “explores the current eroding conditions” in Guatemala and other topics. Guests include Haverford College political science professor Anita Isaacs; Stephen “Carlisle” Johnson, the producer and host of a TV show about Guatemala; and public health and politics journalist Samuel Loewenberg (Savidge, 10/7).