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Country Programme of Guatemala

Guatemala is a country of great contrasts between rich and poor. More than 75% of the total population lives in poverty. Guatemala is still recovering from a 36-year lasting internal conflictand has very weak institutions. Moreover, the country is also located in a zone with a very high risk to extreme natural events and is regularly hit by hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Caritas Switzerland has supported underprivileged and marginalised people in Guatemala for almost four decades through its emergency and development work. 


Human Rights & Social Justice: The programme supports processes of dealing with the past, justice and reparation. Caritas Switzerland’s goal is to encourage the communities to agree on a common history (Right to Know) and to agree on demands for collective measures of reparation for violation of human rights (Right to Compensation). And finally encourage communities to know their rights and to benefit from agreed measures and to obtain justice (Right to Compensation).

Action against hunger and food security: The profoundly unjust land distribution is one of the most serious structural problems in Guatemala. Thus, the old conflict over fertile land does not grow only because of droughts and floods, but also due to the occupation of indigenous territories by foreign actors. Caritas Switzerland tries to mitigate the issues by helping families and communities to legalize their land claims, so that it remains in their possession. Furthermore, the agricultural production is helped to be diversified and the productivity increased. Finally, the families’ income will be increased due to a fair market offer and new trade channels.

Linking human rights enforcement with food security is a key element in Caritas Switzerland’s work in Guatemala, and is reflected in the design of the Caritas Country Programme. Caritas Switzerland includes the cross-cutting issues of partner strengthening, gender mainstreaming, conflict sensitivity in all interventions in Guatemala.

The main target groups for Caritas Switzerland’s projects are communities fighting for an integral collective remediation and investigation of human rights violations, communities and families entitled to regularize the ground, groups, families as well as peasant and indigenous organisations, which promote sustainable agriculture and organisations/social networks which push the activities of the national and international political influence in defence of human rights and advocate for the strengthening of the judicial system. The engagements of Caritas Switzerland are focused on the regions of El Petén, San Marcos and Quiché.

The Guatemala country programme is accompanied by a local field coordinator. The coordination office represents Caritas Switzerland in Guatemala and supports partner organisations in all relevant areas, such as the project cycle or the organisational development. In the context of a decentralisation and by using the programme approach, tasks are delegated from the head office in Switzerland to the coordination office in Guatemala. The coordination office in Guatemala contributes to the fund-raising projects, while the head office is responsible for the overall financing of the programme.

In the current strategy for Guatemala, Caritas Switzerland follows the implementation of decentralisation and of the programme approach, the acquisition of local resources, the establishment of new financial partnerships, strengthening of technical and programmatic competencies of partner organisations as well as training and external support in order to be better prepared for the precarious security situation and criminalisation of human rights organisations and human rights work. The financial volume for the Guatemala programme is CHF 3‘982‘591.

A short history of CACH’s presence in the country
The first intervention of Caritas Switzerland in Guatemala dates back to relief activities after the earthquake in 1976. From there, the work has been continuously adapted to the context and the needs of the Guatemalan civil society. During the 36-year-long armed conflict and in the years after the signing of the peace agreement Caritas Switzerland concentrated its commitment on humanitarian assistance to IDPs, repatriation and integration of returnees.

Since 1996, the focus of Caritas Switzerland has emphasized sustainable development in the areas of food security, human rights, peace promotion and education. 

Country Programme of Guatemala 2012-2016



Fields of Activity

Human Rights & Social Justice
Action against hunger and food security

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