Guatemala ranks among the poorest countries in Latin America. In 1976, we launched our work in Guatemala in the wake of a devastating earthquake. Today, we are supporting 11,800 children with 17 projects.


Drug-related crime
and high levels of violence

Guatemala is a country with immense social inequality, particularly with regard to income, education, and standard of living. Half of the population is poor or very poor, most people cannot escape from the poverty cycle without external support, a situation that greatly affects children. Many girls and boys are forced to work in order to provide for their families, which limits education opportunities, access to decent healthcare, and any chances of a better life. We lend our support to various partner organisations that are committed to reducing rural poverty, prevent violence, and improve access to education for children from poor families.

The challenges

The Central American country Guatemala, ravaged by civil war between 1960 and 1996, is noted for a high level of violence and growing drug-related crime. The wide chasm between rich and poor continues on until today. The wealthiest ten percent of the population own nearly 50 percent of the national wealth and the poorest ten percent own less than one percent. The country’s indigenous population is particularly affected by this, with almost one-third living in extreme poverty.

A smiling girl looks into the camera. (Source: Bastian Strauch)
Children in rural areas need to be specially protected.

The healthcare system is utterly insufficient, particularly in rural areas. To make matters worse, public healthcare suffers from a lack of financial and other resources.

In addition, access to drinking water and sanitary facilities is insufficient in rural areas. The rate of urban-rural migration is alarming and leads to urban overpopulation. As most people barely manage to increase their standard of living after moving to the city, they continue to live in dire poverty.

The country’s education system is in urgent need of qualified educators and resources. Furthermore, most schools are located in urban centres, while most school-aged children live in the countryside.

Due to widespread poverty, the number of working children is very high in both urban and rural areas. This is one of the reasons why children have very little access to education and are therefore unable to escape the vicious circle of poverty.

  • Our work in the country

    Our work in Guatemala focuses in particular on supporting children in rural regions and peri-urban areas, protecting them from violence, and giving them access to a well-rounded education. In doing so, we concentrate on the following key areas: reducing poverty (especially in rural areas), protecting children from abuse, and securing a well-rounded education for them. In addition to helping children, the work involves their families and communities. Our partners help children from poor families by providing education and support programmes tailored to their needs. Awareness-raising campaigns and advocacy work in communities emphasise the importance of education. The projects mainly focus on children in rural areas, particularly from indigenous families. The project centres inform children about their rights and kids learn how to demand respect.

    Other projects are designed especially for children and young people who have been victims of violence. The projects offer psychosocial consulting, access to knowledge on how to improve income, violence prevention measures, and legal assistance. In the long term, we hope that prevention and advocacy work will help to change the legal and political system, a prerequisite to curb violence sustainably. Perpetrators should no longer escape unpunished and victims should be treated with respect.

  • Key figures on Guatemala

    • 14.7 million people live in Guatemala
    • 36 % of all Guatemalans are under the age of 15
    • 4 % are age 65 or older
    • 21 % of all children between the ages of 5 and 14 have to work
    • 13 % of all children under the age of 5 are underweight

    Sources: World Factbook, United Nations

Guatemala: Education opens doors

Guatemala: Education opens doors

Together with our local partner CEIPA we focus on upholding children's right to education in Guatemala. We focus on solid vocational training that helps strengthen the voice of the rural poor.

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Who we are

Who we are

Kindernothilfe is a Non-Governmental Organisation founded in Germany in 1959. We partner with local non-governmental organisations in 30 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe to realize and protect children's rights.

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How we work

How we work

Learn more about how we realize children’s rights.

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