In an example of collaboration with civil society and private sector partners, on April 3, 2013, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) co-hosted"A Healthy Start for Children: Scaling Up Nutrition in Guatemala," where partners from government, civil society, and the private sector discussed implementation of Guatemala's Pacto Cero Hambre (Zero Hunger Pact) and ways to work together to achieve Zero Hunger Pact's goals of reducing child undernutrition by 10 percentage points by the end of 2015.
The event included Guatemala's Minister of Health Jorge Villavicencio and other high-ranking Guatemalan government officials, nutrition experts, and private sector representatives. The U.S. government was represented by Special Representative for Global Food Security Jonathan Shrier, Assistant to the Administrator Paul Weisenfeld from USAID's Bureau of Food Security, and USAID's Mission Director for Guatemala Kevin Kelly.
The idea for this event originated in a U.S. delegation trip to Guatemala led by the Office of the Global Partnership Initiative in August 2012 when Rick Leach, CEO and President of WFP-USA, was taken aback by what he saw. Upon landing, his first remark was, "How can a country that is so green suffer from such severe malnourishment?"
Although the agricultural sector accounts for 13 percent of GDP and 38 percent of the labor force, Guatemala is grappling with one of the worst chronic malnutrition rates in the world. There, half of children under the age of 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition. This means that of the 1,000 babies born each day in Guatemala, half will suffer from stunted growth and cognitive development and will never be able to achieve their full potential.
Compelled to act, Mr. Leach met with people from the Guatemalan government, private sector, and civil society to develop a partnership backed by $185 million in private funding in support of the government of Guatemala's Zero Hunger Pact.
The plan focuses on the critical 1,000-day window from pregnancy through a child's second birthday and utilizes the interventions identified in the UN's Scaling Up Nutrition framework. The plan is ambitious, but by partnering across sectors using a collaborative approach, the Guatemalan government and its partners are hopeful that this goal can be achieved.
Since the launch of the Zero Hunger Pact, the U.S. government has been a strong supporter of the Guatemalan government's efforts to achieve sustainable results, in particular by aligning our Feed the Future programs with Zero Hunger Pact priorities. We commend the Government of Guatemala for its leadership in working with the international community and Guatemalan civil society and private sector partners to address child undernutrition in their country.