Case of Guatemala and the School Glass of Milk Program
From a FAO publication “Budget Work to Advance the Right to Food: Many a slip …”, a process to examine how budgets can have many dimensions that affect human rights was established. This process focused on the following:
In this case the work of the International Centre for Human Rights Research (CIIDH) in Guatemala was examined, who has worked for many years with indigenous communities across the country. One of the problems it deals with is hunger and malnutrition.
The research focused on the most vulnerable sectors of the population, through the School Glass of Milk Program. After a thorough study, it was detected that some children never actually had the glass. It was also found that milk was perhaps not the most appropriate food considering the tradition and culture of these communities, and in many cases, the intolerance of many indigenous people to lactose.
Based on facts that somehow evidenced that the right to food was not being guaranteed, it was considered necessary to undertake a causal analysis, as well as a role and capacity gap analysis.
The conclusions pointed out that the Glass of Milk Program was not accessible for many children. Also, many families lived in remote areas where the program did not reach. Acceptability was also analysed and it became apparent that milk was not part of a normal diet in indigenous communities, due to problems of intolerance. It was also found that the quality was not good, because the milk was sour.
From the cause analysis it was detected that:
- Hunger and malnutrition was a major issue among indigenous children.
- There were no possibilities for families to produce sufficient, nutritious food and they did not have enough money to buy them either. Another cause detected was the lack of access and the inadequacy of the Glass of Milk Program.
- As structural causes, an unequal distribution of power between indigenous communities and milk producers was identified, as the needs and interests of the latter were taken into account, and not those of the indigenous population.
From a detailed analysis of actors, their roles and capability gaps, it was analysed whether there was a budgetary dimension that could be addressed.
Findings showed that the poor quality of the milk, the inadequate coverage, and the inconsistent and insufficient distribution was due to the insufficient funds or budget- related problem. Therefore, the organisation decided to analyse government budgets for evidence.
The initial hypothesis was that the Glass of Milk could have a positive impact on the right to food in Guatemala, allowing malnourished children to have access to a daily drink in school. However, this impact was not achieved not due to weaknesses related to the conception of the program, but to its implementation.
The International Centre for Human Rights Research decided to focus on the budget of the Ministry of Education related to the Program, and undertook a sectorial and socioeconomic analysis of it.
CIIDH found that the program, like other programs of the Ministry of Education, was administrated by the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Food. (MALF) Therefore, it was important to get not only data from the ministry of education but also from this one.
It analysed data from the budget of the Ministry of Education for a period of 11 years, and compared the information with data from the milk delivery from the MALF.
From this analysis it identified a number of weaknesses, not only of the program implementation but also of its conception. It concluded that the program was not adequate to ensure the right to food of indigenous children in Guatemala because:
- Milk was an inappropriate nutritional supplement
- There were other less expensive nutritional supplements, and culturally more acceptable
- The Ministry of Education was paying a lot of money to milk producers, which meant that it could only cover a small number of children
- The program was not reaching the areas with the greatest food insecurity (discrimination)
- Bad distribution of milk and milk was often wasted
CIIDH announced that it would end the School Glass of Milk Program replacing it with another one more culturally appropriate and of lesser costs.