Programme for Rural Development and Reconstruction in the Quiché Department
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Programme for Rural Development and Reconstruction in the Quiché Department (PRODERQUI)
At the beginning of the 1980s a violent conflict erupted in Quiché and Verapaces, two of the poorest departments of Guatemala, where 90 per cent of the population is indigenous. The effects on women and children were particularly devastating.
Quiché department is located in the highlands of north-western Guatemala. It is one of the least developed parts of Guatemala, and one of the worst affected by the violence of the past decades. Most services are extremely limited. In general the environment is fragile. Deforestation and inappropriate agricultural practices have degraded the resource base and caused serious erosion problems. Most of the farms in the area are small, and only some are irrigated.
The overall objective of this programme is to enhance food security, boost incomes and improve living conditions for smallholder farmers and landless people, most of whom are indigenous families. It also works to rebuild the social fabric, help consolidate peace in the area by strengthening local indigenous organizations and rebuild small-scale farms that were destroyed or abandoned during the years of violence.
In order to improve productivity for farmers, the programme is improving and expanding irrigation systems as well as promoting the sustainable management of natural resources. For example, agroforestry has been introduced on mountain slopes to rehabilitate the environment and conserve soils and water. The programme also aims to develop rural microenterprises, introduce credit and savings schemes, secure access to support services for farmers covering production and marketing and help set up community organizations and strengthen institutions at municipal and departmental levels.
Since many households in the post-conflict area are headed by women, and since women are known to be excellent mediators in rebuilding peace, the programme focuses particularly on the participation of women. The programme has helped lighten women’s workloads and women are now participating to a greater degree in community affairs. Health and diets have improved and deforestation has been reduced.