Elizabeth Cobo Pérez is treasurer of the local high school, on the board of directors for her church and secretary for her regional education committee. She helps select scholarships for students at the school her three children attend. Elizabeth is also a field supervisor for AGEXPORT, one of NCBA CLUSA’s local partners in Guatemala.
Through local partnerships, NCBA CLUSA is training up leaders in communities to support families setting up poultry sites in their homes. Lack of protein is causing malnutrition problems, especially among children under five in the Western Highlands. Promoting eating eggs and meat from chickens is one part of the training these field technicians are receiving to introduce positive nutrition to their villages.
In the Western Highlands of Guatemala, local populations are seeing the highest rates of malnutrition in Latin America. Communities like Totonicapán, Huehuetenango, Sololá and Quiché—where Elizabeth works—are seeing rates as high as 7 in 10 children suffering from chronic nutrition problems.
In order to promote quality and diversity in the family diet, particularly for infants and mothers, NCBA CLUSA, along with local partners AGEXPORT and FANTA, organized a field training session to highlight the links between agriculture and nutrition.
“I came to strengthen my knowledge as a woman, a mother and as a staff member working with families in the field,” Elizabeth said. Technicians like her work with groups of community members across multiple villages, who will then each support and train additional families. Elizabeth will serve as that area’s resident nutrition expert, able to answer questions and support the development of the poultry sites.
Elizabeth emphasized the importance of investing in and empowering the women in her community.
“We have an important role to play,” she said. It is important to involve both men and women in tackling malnutrition, Elizabeth continued, because “men sow and harvest the food, but the role of women is very important because she prepares the food and cares for her children.”
In addition to nutrition training, Elizabeth said she also appreciated the training in facilitation. Understanding how to identify key messages, conduct group sessions and provide counseling was as important as the nutrition training itself. She also learned that she might not see changes immediately, but over years as the children grow up and are able to actively participate in the community. Tackling malnutrition is an investment in a child’s future.
Through field technicians like Elizabeth, working and leading in their own communities, Guatemala is training up its citizens to identify and address recurring problems.
NCBA CLUSA’s focus on nutrition in the Western Highlands is part of a project funded by USAID’s Cooperative Development Program