Moving Beyond Aid to Create a
Culture of Self-Reliance
For many generations, rural Guatemalan communities have faced:
- Food insecurity
- Severe health issues because of chronic malnutrition
- Limited income opportunities
These factors have created a cascade of challenges with few long-term and effective solutions.
How is Seeds for a Future Addressing the Challenges Facing Rural Guatemalans?
Since 2009, the non-profit Seeds for a Future has deployed its proven Program for training and empowering rural families and communities to create food security, address malnutrition, and build better lives.
While there are organizations supplying short-term aid relief to rural Guatemalans, Seeds for a Future provides long-term, one-on-one training and coaching along with critical up-front resources for the Program’s participants.
This long-term approach allows rural Guatemalans to sustainably generate their own food security, have healthy diets, and create new income opportunities.
Through taking personal action, Program participants are able to overcome many of the obstacles they face and live their lives with self-reliance.
As of 2024, over 4,800 families have graduated from the Program, which is currently operating in 19 communities throughout rural Guatemala.
How Does the Seeds for a Future Program Work?
The Seeds Program incorporates long-term training and support with three core action areas:
- Nutrition and health education
- Permaculture gardens and small animal husbandry
- Micro-business creation for increased incomes
In addition to the training and support, Seeds for a Future supplies the initial seedlings for the permaculture gardens, protein animals, and pen enclosure materials as needed.
What are the Impacts of the Seeds for a Future Program?
Program participants become self-reliant by creating the following outcomes for themselves:
- Improved health and well-being
- Food security
- New income opportunities
Of critical significance, with better food security and nutrition, fewer infants are born with stunting and health issues, while children and adults live healthier and more fulfilled lives.
A study of the Seeds for a Future Program using a randomized control trial was conducted from 2014 to 2017 by the internationally respected Institute for Nutrition in Central America and Panama (INCAP).
Funded by the Nestlé Foundation of Switzerland, INCAP’s research revealed that Seeds for a Future’s strategies and methods produce measurable positive improvements in the health of participating mothers and babies.
“This is the first time that an integrated health, nutrition, and agriculture project demonstrated a positive outcome in biochemical biomarkers in women and children, and therefore, there is a great potential for escalating the model to other regions.”
The Program also empowers women while allowing new opportunities for citizens who may have otherwise migrated abroad to stay in their communities.
What Makes the Seeds for a Future Program Successful?
The underlying goal of Seeds for a Future’s Program is for families to build better lives for themselves.
Participants are not simply exposed to new skills and information and then left on their own.
They’re closely supported to help them recognize and solve problems, to become comfortable and confident in their new skills and embed them into their daily thinking and routine.
As each family gains confidence with their crops, animals, and life skills, they share their knowledge with extended family and neighbors. It’s a chain-reaction effect, spreading throughout the entire community.
Fostering Community Development
The success of the Program also includes many factors for achieving acceptance and sustainability within communities:
Sensitivity to the cultural context
Relevance to needs and interests
Ethnic, political, and religious neutrality
Use of appropriate learning techniques such as learn-by-doing and guided observation
Design for affordability and the reinforcing effect of early success
Experience has shown these factors are also critical for the program’s success:
Field teams are local to the area and trained to model mutual respect
Encouraging innovation and learning from failure as well as success
Self-selection by families indicates a willingness to learn and do their part
Encouraging the sharing of both knowledge and resources
The Program’s integration and reach into the communities it serves have not been a matter of luck!
The hard work and persistence of the team have evolved a unique, long-term food security and wellness program that's continuing to grow and transform.
“We like Seeds for a Future very much because it
does not just give things, but it teaches us.”
Join the Seeds Community Newsletter!
Seeds for a Future's unique approach dramatically increases health and opportunities every day.
Our monthly communication shares with you the latest insights, updates, videos, and resources of the Program's participants and the Seeds Team.