Part two: Inter-Agency Appeals
People in need
3.8 million
People targeted
1.68 million
Requirements (US$)
153.7 million
Total population
18.2 million
Income level
Upper middle income
INFORM Severity Index
3.5 / High
People reached (2021)
0.1 million
Multi-year requirements (US$)
210 million (2021-2022)

Analysis of the context, crisis and needs

Multiple overlapping crises continue to extract a devastating toll on the most vulnerable people in Guatemala. Approximately 8.5 million people – half of the country’s population – live in poverty, dramatically weakening people’s resilience and ability to mitigate their exposure to risk and withstand recurrent shocks.

In 2020, COVID-19 and back-to-back Hurricanes Eta and Iota exacerbated pre-existing humanitarian conditions. The twin storms left 1.8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Recurrent climatic shocks, displacement and migration, and food and nutrition insecurity continue to be the main drivers of crisis, as the scale and severity of needs grow among vulnerable people exposed to multiple emergencies. In 2021, the number of Guatemalans estimated to be acutely food insecure (IPC Phase 3 or above) peaked at 3.45 million people. Chronic undernutrition affects 47 per cent of children under 5 years of age, the highest rate in Latin America and the Caribbean. That figure reaches 58 per cent among indigenous children.

In recent years, the deepening of pre-existing vulnerabilities has triggered a staggering increase in mixed population movements and return migration. Between January 2020 and July 2021, more than 235,400 Guatemalan nationals were apprehended at the US-Mexico border. In 2020, more than 8,500 unaccompanied children and adolescents were apprehended by US authorities. Nearly 46,000 people were returned to Guatemala from the US and Mexico in 2020, including more than 4,500 unaccompanied children and adolescents. Returnees confront significant protection risks due to forced recruitment by criminal organizations and different forms of violence, including gender-based violence (GBV).

Almost 2.4 million people have urgent protection needs in Guatemala. Women, children and adolescents, people with disabilities, LGBTIQ+ people, migrants, displaced people, refugees and returnees, and indigenous and Afro-descendant groups have the greatest protection needs. In targeted departments, rates of violent crime, mainly homicides, as high as 934 victims per 100,000 inhabitants were reported in 2021.

Projected situation in 2022 and beyond

The 2021/2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview identified 3.8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, a 15 per cent increase compared to the 3.3 million people in need in 2020. In 2022, the humanitarian situation is expected to worsen due to a lack of livelihood opportunities, crop failures and interruptions in access to food, and limited coverage of social protection programmes.

The absence of mass vaccination, especially in rural areas and mid-sized cities, places people’s health and livelihoods at risk and threatens to overwhelm an already strained health system. Currently, around 25 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Acute food insecurity was projected to decline between September 2021 and January 2022. However, the number of people classified as “stressed” (IPC Phase 2) is expected to grow by 12.5 per cent compared to May-August 2021, increasing from 7.7 million people to 7.9 million. Cyclical episodes of severe drought and intense hydrometeorological events, facilitated by the presence of La Niña through early spring 2022, will likely continue to affect agriculture, food output and livelihoods, reversing potentially short-lived improvements in acute food insecurity.

Displacement is projected to rise from around 429,000 people in 2020 to more than 578,400 in 2023 (an increase of nearly 35 per cent) due to escalating violence and a deteriorating socioeconomic and human rights situation. Increased migration flows will expose growing numbers of people on the move to significant protection risks, including GBV, trafficking, exploitation and sexual abuse, and reintegration challenges for returnees.

Response priorities in 2022

In 2022, the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) will respond to the most pressing humanitarian needs of 1.68 million people. This represents around 44 per cent of the 3.8 million people in need.

The 2021-2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), requiring US$210 million, strategically prioritizes vulnerable groups and geographic areas hardest hit by Eta and Iota, Dry Corridor communities subject to recurrent climatic shocks, and areas with a significant presence of people on the move. Despite initial funding being provided in 2021, several key sectors and cross-cutting issues remain significantly underfunded, including housing, nutrition, GBV, health and livelihoods, leaving critical response gaps that must be addressed.

Guatemala HRP

The HRP’s strategic objectives aim to protect and save the lives of affected people, while also strengthening resilience and the linkages between humanitarian and development actions. The HRP delivers integrated assistance through interventions at the household level to address urgent multisectoral needs, and in the most affected communities to help recover and rehabilitate critical systems and services.

Based on needs assessments and analysis, the HRP prioritizes response actions in five departments, targeting the most vulnerable groups, such as children and adolescents, pregnant and lactating women, subsistence farmers and informal workers, indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, people on the move and people with disabilities. Amid high levels of violence and insecurity, including femicide, GBV and violence against children, protection is a key cross-cutting issue prioritized across the response.

Through the HRP, the HCT is improving access to critical services, including education, health and WASH, re-establishing the food security of families in need through cash transfers and in-kind food assistance, and implementing recovery actions for livelihoods and basic services with a Build Back Better approach.

Further reading