Guatemala and Bangladesh are similar in many ways: they are both countries rich in natural resources and wonderful cultural traditions and colorfully dressed women in traditional clothing. They are also both countries plagues by natural disasters such as hurricanes, and a large percentage of their populations live in poverty. This is why the Guatemalan government is looking to adopt a program that has been successful in Bangladesh. Guatemala has been nominated to receive support from Feed the Future, a U.S. governmental organization that aims to end hunger around the world through long-lasting projects. The nominees must make a proposal for how to use the $3.5 million that would be distributed over three years, and Guatemala borrowed their idea from Bangladesh.
There, programs have worked to find food security for families living in poverty, and improving the status of women has been shown to be a sure way to improve the living situation of the entire family. These programs have given support to women so that they could become entrepreneurs, often by helping them buy sheep, a cow, or chickens. Then they give them the knowledge about how to feed and care for the animal, how to ensure the animal breeds, and where to sell the offspring (or milk, or eggs). The World Food Program in Bangladesh has been working with the poorest of the poor, and stand by their ideology that only giving money is not sustainable. They give the women opportunities and education, and in a conservative country like Bangladesh, that is often far more than many women have ever been given.
The business endeavors do not have to be raising livestock, but that is the most common. However, in Guatemala, the plan is to also help women and men start businesses in a variety of enterprises, including livestock, but also fisheries, textiles, or wicker products (made from dried palm fronds). Giving these impoverished families a leg up so they hopefully continue on a better self-sufficient life is the goal of these programs. Bangladesh already has thousands of success stories, women who now have a dozen cows for their family to sell for milk and meat, who are able to support all of those animals as well as the whole family. These kinds of results are exactly what Guatemala is hoping for.
*Information taken from Prensa Libre: Guatemala, lunes 3 de enero de 2011.