Protection and assistance Guatemala

Fighting the food crisis in Guatemala's Dry Corridor

2015 - 2019
Published on May 28, 2015 02:00 AM  -  Updated on Jul 16, 2020 04:00 PM
TSF develops a mobile solution for information collection, management and monitoring for a food aid programme in response to the drought crisis in Guatemala's Dry Corridor.

Context: Food crisis
Start date: 28/05/2015
End date: 31/12/2019
Areas of intervention: 7 departments

  • Chiquimula
  • Baja Verapaz
  • Quiché
  • Sololá
  • Quezaltenango
  • Huehuetenango
  • Zacapa


  • Digitisation of collection tools
  • Analysis and visualisation of data

270 communities
9,097 families, representing 46,066 individual beneficiaries of food aid
68 data collectors since 2015


Guatemala’s Dry Corridor, which extends over several departments in the centre of the country, is characterised by cyclical droughts. In 2013, coffee leaf rust, a fungal disease that affects the leaves, had already strongly affected coffee crops, causing a 60% reduction in coffee producers’ income.

Since 2014, weather conditions have been aggravated by the El Niño and La Niña phenomena, which have caused the worst droughts in decades.

With more than 276,000 families affected by food insecurity and nutrition issues, the government declared a state of emergency in 16 departments in March 2015. The most vulnerable populations originate from predominantly rural and indigenous communities.

The impact of climate instability has been exacerbated by low agricultural yields - hence poor livelihoods, inequalities and shortcomings in social protection programmes. This national context has plunged the country into a long-term humanitarian crisis. From 2006 until 2014, poverty increased from 51% to 59.3% and extreme poverty from 15.3% to 23.4%, whist chronic malnutrition affected one out of two children under the age of five.

In 2017, only 10% of the basic consumption of Dry Corridor households came from self-production, and by September their stocks were almost out. The 2018-2019 forecast indicated a persistence of livelihood fragility and an increase in institutional deficiencies related to the 2019 presidential elections.

The consortium of humanitarian organisations

In order to respond to this humanitarian crisis, Télécoms Sans Frontières joined a consortium of international organizations in 2015. Funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and led by Acción Contra el Hambre (ACH), five NGOs pooled their expertise to strengthen the “Operation Opportunity” food aid programme launched by the Guatemalan government to alleviate the problems aggravating the drought-related humanitarian crisis.

In 2015 and 2016, the Consortium implemented a project to financially support families of extreme vulnerability and high nutritional and dietary needs.

Beneficiaries are identified according a careful selection process, in coordination with the Secretariat for Food and Nutrition Security (SESAN), municipalities and communities. The determination and application of the selection criteria are evaluated in a participatory manner by all the actors involved in the project.

The Consortium focuses on five main activities:

  • Monetary transfers to households in situations of extreme vulnerability;
  • Monitoring of the food and nutrition security situation in the Dry Corridor;
  • The transmission of resilience practices to communities;
  • The search for cases of acute malnutrition in children to monitor their treatment;
  • The establishment of effective advocacy based on verified indicators.

In 2016-2017, the Guatemalan health system and social protection programmes collapsed due to scarcity of resources.

The Consortium has therefore maintained its humanitarian aid since 2015. Previous actions have demonstrated a favourable impact with the maintenance of an acceptable food consumption of beneficiaries during the hunger season, and with the transmission to farmers of good agricultural practices.

TSF provided the Consortium with a technological solution, based on open source systems for the management and monitoring of programme information. The role of TSF was to:

  • Determine the most appropriate equipment for the field;
  • Configure collection, administration and visualisation means;
  • Train data collectors and administrators;
  • Provide technical support throughout the action.

Digitisation of evaluations and monitoring for the provision of livelihood

TSF developed an ODK-based mobile tool for tablets, based on open source systems, used by Consortium members for the management and monitoring of programme information. The purpose of this form is to collect the information in identified areas needed to ensure:

  • The selection of beneficiaries in a transparent manner vis-à-vis beneficiaries themselves, the communities, the government and donors;
  • The establishment of a reference baseline;
  • The monitoring of beneficiaries' food security conditions through the calculation of measurement indicators as defined by the World Food Programme (WFP).

The information collected focuses on availability, access and food consumption, coping strategies and nutritional status of children under five.

Data was originally planned to be collected using pen and paper. The development of this digital solution has streamlined data collection and has allowed data collectors to:

  • Collect information and send it in real time;
  • Calculate the indicators and generate reports in real time;
  • Make the selection process more transparent by informing families instantly of their eligibility and explaining the reasons;
  • Avoid errors when transmitting the form between data collectors and administrators;
  • Monitor the flow of information in real time;
  • Instantly generate comprehensive reports, maps and databases for further analysis;
  • Inform the public through an interactive online map presenting the information collected.

The processing of information is conducted through specific statistical programmes. The automatic calculation of these indicators enables the Consortium to identify the situation instantly and thus to set up follow-up actions if necessary in order to reach the baseline for each beneficiary household.

This ODK form has evolved since 2015 based on field feedback, and it is regularly adapted to better respond to the activities and the evolution of the situation.

Informative dashboard

The different data collected among households are centralised on a digital platform gathering several types of information: interactive maps of field data based on food security indicators, graphs, statistics and communication materials. Complex mapping functionalities, with chronology, dynamic updates and multi-layers have been developed to allow a global visualisation of the evolution of the indicators since the beginning of the programme.

The platform thus enables better coordination and institutional management of information by creating common monitoring tools. Finally, this tool offers a way to combat cronyism or politicisation of the use of humanitarian aid, by providing regular information on the impact of the programme and its evolution.

These technological tools have contributed to the prioritisation of beneficiaries, the determination of baselines and the permanent long-term monitoring of food security and nutritional conditions in communities, also enabling rapid visualisation of information that can be shared online for advocacy activities.

Since 2015, the five NGOs of the Consortium have used the TSF solution to intervene in 270 communities in seven departments amongst 9,097 families – representing 46,066 people.

TSF is part of a move to transfer this successful tool to key local actors in order to scale up the programme to national level.

With the support of