Christian Aid works in four countries in Central America – Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. We work with around 30 partner organisations, from community-based groups to larger organisations operating across the region and beyond.
Our partners include indigenous communities, small farmers’ associations, development organisations, women and feminist organisations, research institutions and faith-based organisations. We also have strong links with sister ecumenical agencies, Norwegian Church Aid, Lutheran World Federation, Bread for the World, ICCO, Church of Sweden and work to seek new alliances with government ministries and agencies, and the private sector.
Despite being considered a middle-income country, and the fifth largest exporter of coffee and sugar in the world, many people in Guatemala are suffering horrific poverty. It is a country of contrasts: flooding and drought, wealth and poverty, agricultural exports and food shortages.
Half of all children under five are malnourished, which permanently affects physical and mental development. The levels of maternal mortality are among the highest in the region and haven’t dropped in the last 15 years.
Twenty-five years on from the Central American Peace Accords, poverty, violence, environmental vulnerability and widespread inequality remain serious challenges for the region.
- To help build a fair and equal society, free from violence, achieved through democratic and accountable institutions.
- To build more resilient communities based on a fairer economic model.
- To help marginalised groups, especially women, youth, LGTBI, disabled and the indigenous population to take advantage of development.
- To build the capacity of partners and communities so they have a better understanding of fiscal, resilience and violence prevention issues and how they apply directly to people’s lives.
Christian Aid has excellent knowledge of the region and the expertise and capacity to deliver complex projects in the following areas:
Guatemala is at risk from floods, storms and hurricanes for six months of the year. It is also a country at risk of earthquakes. The UN’s climate change panel has warned that storms will get more frequent and more intense. In addition, a central swathe of land called the dry corridor suffers from droughts that cause food shortages. Deforestation, slash and burn agriculture and farming methods on plantations make matters worse for poor communities.
Our holistic approach to resilience is already recognised by partners and some government officials as pioneering in the region. With our partners, we have developed and worked with tools and approaches including participatory vulnerability and capacity assessments, power analysis, conflict analysis and resilience, market mapping, Core Humanitarian Standard and climate analysis for adaptation and risk management.
Christian Aid was the first international non-governmental organisation in Central America to champion tax justice, and we have gained strong experience on the issue through our work with key organisations.
While Guatemala has a weak justice system and access to justice is not equal to all people, Guatemala has very high levels of crime and gang violence which affect security and the rule of law. Women and young people are even more vulnerable because of gender-based violence and the exclusion of young people. Both groups face high unemployment and poor access to healthcare, education and culture.
We understand that complexity of actors, motivations and causes of violence is highly complex so in Christian Aid we have designated ‘Tackling violence and Building Peace’ as one of our strategic change objectives in Partnership for Change, our global strategic plan.
We work with poor families in rural and semi-urban communities who are landless or living at subsistence level – prioritising women, youth and ethnic groups who have historically been excluded and discriminated against and also addressing the structural causes of vulnerability and exclusion, not just the symptoms.
Christian Aid’s regional approach works because of the close economic, social and political ties between the four countries where we work (Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador). This leads to coherent programming, links between partners and other allies across the region, and shared learning.
Christian Aid works with partner organisations to address the country's economic inequality, help communities prepare for natural disasters and promote non-violent alternatives to conflict.
ICEFI believes that better taxation can be one solution to the problem of inequality. Its research, advocacy and lobbying work shows how a more progressive tax system in Guatemala and greater transparency in the international financial system could tackle poverty. ICEFI was a key advocate for progressive tax reform approved by the Guatemalan parliament in 2012. Similar work is now being developed in Nicaragua and El Salvador, using learning from the Guatemalan experience.
Promote non-violent alternatives to conflict
Caja Lúdica uses tools that promote participation, play, culture and good living as a peaceful way to bring change in urban communities where young people see no alternative to violence. Caja Lúdica’s approach is innovative. Their activities not only promote artistic skills, but they also influence others, build confidence, self-esteem, self-awareness, teamwork, tolerance and interpersonal skills. In a country torn apart by violence and exclusion, its work is vital.