Catholic Relief Services: Guatemala


Location: Guatemala
Organizations Involved:
Catholic Relief Services Catholic Relief Services Guatemala
Author: Marlon Motha Hurtado, Independent Consultant, Adriana Smith, Independent Consultant & Search for Common Ground

This report examines the transition of project activities in Guatemala from Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to community organizations over the course of the seven-year (2012–18) Food Security Focused on the First Thousand Days (Seguridad Alimentaria Enfocada en los Primero Mil Días/SEGAMIL) project. SEGAMIL, funded by USAID’s Food for Peace (FFP) initiative, sought to improve food security in marginalized areas of Guatemala through three strategic objectives:

  1. Improve food access for farmer households.
  2. Reduce chronic malnutrition among vulnerable rural populations in targeted micro watershed.
  3. Improve local and municipal food security resilience systems.

Given SEGAMIL’s significant scale, this report will focus on the transition as it relates to the first of these strategic objectives. This objective involved the creation and subsequent strengthening of integral human development field schools (escuelas de campo para el desarrollo integral/ECADIs) in order to train producer families in good agricultural practices (such as animal vaccination), provide nutrition counseling and growth monitoring, and receive food distribution. ECADIs were critical to the larger project—as CRS’s SEGAMIL exit strategy notes: “The ECADIs are the key structure to integrate all learning activities and behavior change promotion from the three strategic objectives and a principle strategy in the design and sustainability of the SEGAMIL program.”

The SEGAMIL sustainability plan, developed in close consultation with target communities, called for capacity building and support to institutionalize these ECADIs within local communities, thereby ensuring their survival beyond project close.

A total of six semi-structured key informant interviews and four large focus group discussions were conducted with CRS staff and ECADI participants in the departments of San Marcos and Totonicapán, Guatemala. Focus group discussions were carried out with the following ECADIs: Rayitos de Sol, Maria Guadaloupe, La Montañesa, and Las Floresitas.


This case study is an example of the transition of project activities from an international organization (Catholic Relief Services) to community organizations. It focuses on the example of the creation and strengthening of integral human development field schools in Guatemala, which aim to improve food access.

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