The Trickle Up Solution
Blog & Media
Guatemala's New Disability Inclusion Program
The Sweet Taste of Savings in Nicaragua
Meet Ruth Esther González Martínez
Meet Juana Vicente Martín
Chocolate & the Women of Santa Rosa Chivité
A Hike To Tonisaj, Guatemala
Guatemala & Nicaragua
Although only a short plane ride from Florida, Guatemala has the fourth highest rate of malnutrition in the world. Right in the United States’ “backyard,” people live in conditions we are more likely to associate with Sub-Saharan Africa than our Caribbean neighbors. Guatemala and Nicaragua are the second and third poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, after Haiti, and during the past thirty years have suffered economic, political, social, and natural disasters. For these three countries, trouble comes in battalions.
The average Central American lives and supports their family as a subsistence farmer, much as their forefathers have for centuries. After generations of division, family land has been whittled into tiny plots that can barely produce enough corn and beans to last between three and nine months. To supplement their income, people work as day laborers, or rent land and work as share croppers, or seasonally migrate to work on sugar and coffee plantations. Women sometimes work in the field, and in Guatemala most women do some form of weaving on a back strap loom as wide as their waist. Layered on top of this meager existence have been the following:
In Guatemala, Trickle Up’s works in small rural communities consisting of 30 to 500 families in two of the three poorest regions of the country, Alta Verapaz and Quiché. Trickle Up participants are primarily from the Queqchi and Quiché indigenous groups and live in remote rural communities, often an hour’s walk or a once a day bus ride to the nearest market. Their homes have dirt floors, they fit 6-8 people in one or two rooms, and their diet consists primarily of beans and tortillas, with chicken soup once a week when they are doing well. Between three and six months per year (known as the 'hungry season'), many of our participants do not have enough to eat, and must migrate or borrow against next season’s harvest to survive. Without conventional employment options, self-employment is the only means of survival, which is why Trickle Up has a vital role to play.
In Nicaragua, Trickle Up also works primarily in remote, rural communities, outside the cities of Matagalpa and Leon, and the Atlantic Coast region of Bluefields. According to the United Nations 2009 Human Development Report, an estimated 2.5 million people out of a population of 5.5 million still live in extreme poverty. In Nicaragua the majority of the rural poor rely on seasonal agricultural work that brings in as little as $100 per month, which may be supporting a family of six. The country's tropical dry zone results in periodic drought and other extreme weather conditions that place further strain on agricultural production and employment. For the poorest, household coping strategies include selling productive assets, withdrawing children from school, or drastically reducing food intake: measures that push households deeper into chronic poverty and compromise health and well-being.
Trickle Up is helping the poorest people in these two countries establish microenterprises that diversify their income streams, broaden goods available in local markets, and build savings that can provide a buffer against economic shocks in uncertain times.
EVIDENCE OF LASTING CHANGE (2012 DATA):