Guatemala faces serious challenges in reducing high maternal and child mortality rates. According to World Food Programme (WFP) (2014), approximately half of children under five years old in Guatemala are currently chronically malnourished, which is the fourth highest rate in the world and the highest in Central America, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Chronic malnutrition, often caused by insufficient food intake, can negatively affect child growth. Mothers’ poor nutrition during pregnancy significantly increases the risk of complications during labor, and can lead to low-birth weight in infants. Babies born under these conditions are at a higher risk of disease and disability long into adulthood.
Against this backdrop, the Guatemalan Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance requested JICA’s technical assistance to improve access to quality health and nutritional services. The project, which is called the Project for Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition Improvement, aims to improve the health and nutrition of pregnant women and children under five in the El Quiché department. The project is expected to achieve its objective based on the following outputs: