By Luis Cocon, communications liaison for Unbound in Guatemala
The other day while waiting for the bus I saw a little girl about the age of 6 crying. Her cry sounded desperate. Her cry troubled some people. Others just ignored it.
“She is thirsty,” her mother said, as a young woman on an old bicycle stopped and gave the little girl some soda. After a couple of sips a smile appeared on the girl’s face.
Her cry for water reminded me that it is essential for life. I thought of places where people die of hunger and thirst. Not in some faraway country, but right here in my own country of Guatemala.
This is the rainy season in Guatemala, but it has not rained since late June. This extended period of drought is occupying news headlines and has become a priority on our government´s agenda. Rainfall deficits in July 2014 have affected basic grain crops in numerous districts in the eastern and central regions of Guatemala, as well as some districts in the western region.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food (MAGA), families in the so-called “dry corridor” (the Chiquimula, Jutiapa, Jalapa, Baja Verapaz, El Progreso, Zacapa and Quiche districts) are at risk of losing at least half of their corn and bean crops this year.
The loss of crops could affect more than 120,000 families. They would not have food or income because they sell a portion of their harvest to earn a living.
The government plans to assist rural families affected by the drought. MAGA says it is ready to distribute 1,500 tons of food, if and when it’s needed.
Carmen Rosa Carranza, Unbound coordinator in Guatemala’s Chimaltenango region, said that Unbound would address this situation by providing food supplies through the monthly sponsorship benefits for each sponsored member.
Throughout the years Unbound has worked with families to prevent and alleviate food shortages related to drought.
Walter Morales, Unbound agronomist for Chimaltenango region, said that Unbound teaches families to use seeds that are drought resistant, capture and recycle rainwater and practice reforestation to replace trees cut down because of farming.
Guatemala has been blessed with natural richness, but I cannot help but relate the cry of that little girl to the cry of my country and our Mother Earth. If we do not take care of her and her resources, we will lose them.
Now is the time to help our planet before it is too late and we all begin to cry of thirst.
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