Mercy Corps team members are on the ground now responding in Guatemala after a powerful volcanic eruption killed dozens and left more injured or missing.Donate now
Our response to the Fuego Volcano
The global organization Mercy Corps is responding to the recent eruptions of the Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala. So far we have distributed 1,500 gallons of purified water from one of the organization’s water purification plants to people who fled their homes in the lava’s path.
“A volcanic eruption is pretty much like an avalanche, so people tend to run away as fast as they can,” says Marcelo Viscarra, Mercy Corps country director in Guatemala. “Mothers are losing their children, and families are being separated. I saw a number of kids in the shelters who didn’t know where their parents are.”
According to the latest official reports, the volcanic eruption killed at least 109 people and seriously injured 58. Almost 200 people are still missing. Some 13 shelters housing 4,137 people have been established for those fleeing the volcano, and they are well equipped with mattresses, blankets, water, food and warm clothing.
More than 3,100 have been evacuated already, and the eruption is affecting some 1.7 million people.
Mercy Corps is coordinating our response in Guatemala with local authorities, including the national office of disaster reduction, Coordinadora Nacional Para la Reducción de Desastres.
Guatemala has officially requested international support and is prioritizing the following items: equipment for shelters, cold food rations, cleaning and hygiene supplies, analgesics and antibiotics, water filters, mobile toilets, telecommunications, medical and surgical equipment, mobile hospitals and medical assistance.
Life in Guatemala
About 54 percent of the general population lives in poverty, compared to 80 percent of the rural population, where the majority of the indigenous population lives. Fertile land — the most important means of production in this agricultural economy — is concentrated in the hands of a few.
Land reform since the end of Guatemala’s 36-year civil war in 1996 has advanced in fits and starts. Chronic insecurity and high crime rates in the country, especially in urban areas in and around Guatemala City, further limit economic potential. Guatemala also struggles with government corruption, crippled infrastructure, and high rates of malnutrition.
- Conflict & Governance: Strengthening local violence prevention initiatives and linking to national initiatives for a holistic and integrated approach to decreasing violence and crime rates.
- Agriculture & Food: Providing nutrition education to mothers with young children, and helping small farmers diversify and trace crops, improve quality and increase revenues.
- Health: Providing health and hygiene education to build healthier communities.
Guatemala: Meet our field staff: Carlos
Fighting for the rights of rural communities comes naturally to Carlos. Find out why he's dedicated to improving lives in his own country.
Guatemala: Juan Tista Toj, pharmacist in Guatemala
More pharmacies will begin serving remote villages thanks to a pilot program that Mercy Corps and partners are taking to scale throughout the country.
Guatemala: Rapid response gets food to families after earthquake
Mercy Corps works in some of the poorest communities in western Guatemala — which were at the epicenter of the 7.4 earthquake that struck the country on November 7, 2012.
Guatemala: Speeding relief to earthquake survivors
Mercy Corps is providing emergency food for families affected by the 7.4-magnitude earthquake that struck Guatemala last week.
Guatemala: Amanda's mission: Women helping women
Amanda Sacul’s job is twofold: to mediate disputes over land — disputes that prevent families from moving forward economically — and to train other indigenous women how to resolve these conflicts themselves.
Guatemala: Planting better crops
Seven-year-old Ancel Cual excitedly gets his hands dirty helping to plant yucca in his community of Corozal in the northern highlands of Guatemala.
Guatemala: A seat at the table: Empowering women in land-conflict mediation
Mercy Corps has been at the forefront of the movement to resolve land conflict in rural Guatemala since 2003. Meet the women who are now leading the charge.
Guatemala: Women stake their claim in the land of machismo
Their roots of land conflict may date to the Spanish conquistadors, but today we’re giving women the tools to resolve them without resorting to lawyers or guns.
Guatemala: Land ownership yields stronger, healthier communities
Families in the rural highlands are dependent on the land, but years of civil war have diminished resources. Find out how they are rebuilding from the ground up.
Guatemala: Marching for change
Hundreds of women in Guatemala paraded through the streets of Cobán on March 8 — International Women's Day — with a palpable feeling of pride and hope for the future.