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This Livelihood Profiles document aims to describe how rural populations live in different areas of Guatemala. A livelihood refers to the ways people obtain access to the things they need to survive and prosper, with a particular focus on food, income and basic goods and service. The options available to households living in different regions vary. Understanding of how people usually make ends meet is essential for assessing how livelihoods will be affected by acute or medium term economic or ecological change and for planning interventions that will support, rather than undermine, their existing survival strategies.
Two main outputs are presented in this report in an effort to increase our understanding of rural livelihoods across the country: i) the national livelihood zones map for Guatemala, which shows a number of defined areas within which people share broadly the same patterns of livelihood and serves as livelihoods-based sampling frame for further fieldwork and analysis, and ii) the livelihood zone profiles, which describe the main characteristics of each zone, including a brief differentiation of the food security status of different socioeconomic groups.
In 2007, the Food and Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), in partnership with the Food and Nutritional Security Secretariat (SESAN) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) produced the second national zoning and livelihood zone profiles report for Guatemala, published in 2009. The original document dates from 2004. Since then, these tools have been widely used by the different partners and have become basic reference material for development and humanitarian agencies working in the country.
After close to 10 years, the need for updating of the zoning exercise and the livelihood profiles has arisen. Continuous changes in the makeup of the national economy have, indeed, warranted the updating of the livelihoods-based tools. Among these new trends the following stand out: an increased urbanization, an important expansion of the areas devoted to permanent cash crops (cardamom, African palm, rubber, and sugar cane) mostly at the cost of basic grain production, the recent coffee crisis linked to coffee rust and the persistent dry weather in the southern regions. The recurrent dry weather has, in fact, resulted in rural population not wanting to risk crop losses and reducing the amount of land cultivated, and, as a result, increasing their dependency on labor sales and petty trade, especially among poorer households.
The updating of the national livelihood zones map and livelihood profiles was carried out jointly by the SESAN, FAO, ACF, COOPI, WFP and FEWS NET, and jointly funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the aforementioned partners. Key personnel from these institutions acted as facilitators during national workshops and field meetings, charged with collecting and analyzing the information which provided the basis for the livelihood profiles. In addition, the participation of a wide spectrum of local organizations - who are the real connoisseurs of the regions - provided the necessary inputs for the redefinition of the zoning map, according to their experience and knowledge. The workshop was held in Guatemala City in February 2016 and was followed by field verification between July and August of the same year1.
The main objective driving the updating of the livelihoods-based tools is to continue supporting food security monitoring efforts, early warning and emergency diagnosis. The workshops and meetings held during the validation process have been in themselves valuable exercises for different local actors to define and catalogue the characteristics of the areas where they work and especially the realities of local households, the interaction of different socioeconomic groups and their interdependence. These tools are expected to be equally useful for the development community at large.
Livelihood Profile briefly describes wealth groups and compares the various sources of food and income particular to each. The profile provides a basis for understanding how and whether different groups may be vulnerable to “shocks” such as drought, flooding, conflict or a market disruption. In recent years, FEWS NET expanded its profiles through a mapping exercise that includes additional baseline information on: livelihood differences between the poor and the better-off, common hazards in the zone, seasonal calendars and a consumption calendar focused on the poor. These livelihood zoning plus profiles are available for 24 countries.