USAID/OFDA provided emergency food commodities following Tropical Storm Agatha in May 2010.
USAID/OFDA provided emergency food commodities following Tropical Storm Agatha in May 2010.
Manuel Gramajo/USAID

Key Developments

On November 7, 2012, a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck off the coast of San Marcos, Guatemala, near the border with Mexico, resulting in 41 deaths and displacing an estimated 5,250 people, according to the Government of Guatemala (GoG) National Coordination for Disaster Management (CONRED). Initial reports indicated that the earthquake damaged an estimated 2,300 houses, 200 of which incurred severe damage, in Guatemala’s southwestern region. In response, CONRED dispatched emergency response teams, including urban search-and-rescue (USAR) teams, and transported more than 44 metric tons (MT) of relief supplies—food, mattresses, and blankets—to San Marcos and Quetzaltenango departments.

On November 8, 2012, U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala Arnold A. Chacon declared a disaster due to the effects of the earthquake. In response, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) provided $50,000 to USAID/Guatemala for the local purchase of emergency relief items—including water purification supplies, blankets, and hygiene kits—for distribution through CONRED to affected populations, as well as for fuel to support response efforts. The USAID/OFDA senior regional advisor in Latin America and the Caribbean traveled to Guatemala and led USAID/OFDA’s earthquake response in coordination with USAID/OFDA’s Guatemala-based disaster risk management specialist and USAID/OFDA-activated local surge capacity consultants. The USAID/OFDA team evaluated humanitarian conditions, conducted damage and needs assessments, and liaised with GoG emergency officials and humanitarian partners.


Guatemala is prone to a variety of natural hazards, particularly volcanic eruptions, flooding, and earthquakes. Since 2003, USAID/OFDA has responded to eight disaster events in Guatemala. USAID/OFDA disaster assistance has contributed to the emergency relief efforts of local and international non-governmental organizations, as well as the GoG. In addition to direct disaster assistance, USAID/OFDA supports ongoing disaster risk reduction activities and capacity building initiatives for disaster response in Guatemala and the larger Latin America and Caribbean region. For example, in 2012, USAID/OFDA donated USAR equipment—valued at $25,000—to CONRED and Guatemalan USAR teams as part of an ongoing commitment to strengthen national response capacity.

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Last updated: October 22, 2013

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