The Republic of Guatemala is a multicultural, multiethnic and multilingual country. Considering its exposure to different natural and climatological phenomena, it is also a country vulnerable to multiple hazard risks. Per the 2020 World Risk Report, Guatemala ranks 10th in the world in terms of exposure to disasters and 28th in vulnerability according to INFORM's 2021 Risk Index. Taking into consideration the last 20 years, Guatemala ranks 16th on the 2021 Global Climate Risk Index.
In addition to the historical social gaps that produce high levels of deprivation in terms of access to basic services, vulnerability and multidimensional poverty, every year hundreds of thousands of people suffer from the impacts of disasters and humanitarian crises. In 2020, Guatemala witnessed a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season, with extreme rainfall, catastrophic winds and deadly landslides devastating the country.
Additionally, heightened volcanic activity has destroyed infrastructure and productive assets, displacing communities and causing loss of human life. Food and nutrition insecurity remains a stark and persistent reality in Guatemala, which is particularly pronounced in the country’s interior, especially in rural areas. Migration and forced displacement have also increased due to complex, multifaceted vulnerabilities and risk factors.
The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic generated an unprecedented simultaneous global crisis, owing to the containment measures implemented by almost all countries across the globe. As a result, the Human Development Index declined for the first time in 2021, eroding 6 years of progress. In the case of Guatemala, despite the gradual reopening that began in the second half of 2020, along with the prevention and monitoring measures implemented by the Government which have helped contain the virus to a certain extent, the reality in mid-2021 is that we must remain vigilant as we are now faced with the greatest spread of the virus since the pandemic began. In this context, the most vulnerable groups are suffering the greatest socio-economic impact: indigenous peoples, women, children and adolescents, the elderly, people with disabilities and people on the move.
The current context poses a great challenge for the different development partners in Guatemala.
Humanitarian needs and deprivations continue to multiply amid a state of constant crisis.
The United Nations System, under the premise of leaving no one behind and a human rights-based approach aimed at strengthening the links between humanitarian and development interventions, has been working for several years with partners from different sectors together with the Government of Guatemala, carrying out joint activities and multisectoral coordination through the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) in response to major emergencies, disasters and crises affecting the Guatemalan people.
The current humanitarian situation requires unprecedented action to help 4.8 million affected people, including 3.8 million in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. This is why we are launching this Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). The support that the international community is capable of providing through humanitarian assistance will help save lives and reduce the suffering of almost a quarter of the Guatemalan population. This is a complex and urgent situation that must be addressed through the collective efforts of all sectors and actors, including the Government, private sector, civil society, donors, and national and international organizations, which adhere to the universal principle of humanity.
Guatemala needs us and is counting on our support