© Helvetas


Guatemala has great economic potential, and yet large segments of the population remain poor, especially in the countryside. Helvetas works with the local authorities to promote the sustainable use of natural resources such as soil, water and forests so that rural communities can earn more and improve their lives. Helvetas also improves access to clean drinking water and better sanitary facilities.
© Helvetas
  • Capital
  • Area
    108,889 km²
  • Poverty rate*
    59% of the population live under the poverty line of $1.90 per day
    Rank: 125 out of 188
  • Population
  • People supported per year
  • Thematic focus
    Sustainable and Inclusive Economies
    Environment and Climate Change
    Gender and Social Equity
    Governance, Peace & Migration
* Source: UN Data

The economy is booming, and yet inequality in Guatemala is greater than in most Latin American countries. The infant and maternal mortality rates remain high and malnutrition and illiteracy are widespread. These problems plague indigenous communities in particular, which make up 40% of the overall population. Their economic plight has actually worsened in recent years.

Inclusive economic development

Helvetas has been active in Guatemala since 1972. We work with local authorities to promote grass-roots initiatives of women and farmers. They strengthen their organizations and improve skills to increase production and income by collectively marketing their produce, such as vegetables, poultry and coffee.

Entrepreneurship for young people

Helvetas has also launched a training program for young people from small farms to learn how to start new lines of production in an entrepreneurial spirit and thereby improve their community’s economic situation. This project targets young people with a view to keeping them from migrating to the cities or to the US for want of prospects at home.

"Healthy schools" for better sanitation

One major problem in Guatemala is access to clean water and functional sanitary facilities. Nationwide, not even half the population have clean water and latrines at their disposal. The local authorities are often unable to secure the water supply.  Helvetas supports them in setting up municipal water offices and train sanitary technicians.

We have also been involved in creating so-called “healthy schools” equipped with clean water, sinks and toilets. The staff teaches basic rules of hygiene to pupils, e.g. to wash their hands and brush their teeth, which the schoolchildren then bring home to their families.

Visit the website of Helvetas Guatemala.

© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen
Jungle © Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen
© Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
Youth © Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
© Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
Potato harvest © Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
© Helvetas, Flurina Rothenberger
Forester © Helvetas, Flurina Rothenberger
© Helvetas
Farmer © Helvetas
© Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
Farmers © Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger

Our Projects in Central America

If you would like to know more about our work in Guatemala, click on each project for details.

© Helvetas
Haiti Environment and Climate Change

Better Prepared for Storms

© Helvetas
Guatemala Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Entrepreneurship in the Guatemalan Highlands

© Water for food
Global Governance, Peace & Migration

Tackling Corruption in the Water Sector

© Helvetas
Guatemala Governance, Peace & Migration

Entrepreneurship in the Guatemalan Highlands


The most vulnerable communities suffer from dirty and scarce water. Annually we help up to 500,000 people get new access to drinking water and basic sanitation.

Skills Development and Education

Lack of education perpetuates inequality because poor countries cannot compete economically without a skilled workforce.

Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Economic growth does not always benefit the poor and poverty is bad for growth. We need to make a proactive effort to break this vicious cycle.

3a. Calle 6-11, zona 9
Edificio Sánchez, 4o. Nivel - Oficina 42
01009 Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala

Phone:+502 2234-6883 al 85
E-Mail: helvetas.guatemala@helvetas.org