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Yearning of Yalambojoch: A field study about rural poverty in northwestern Guatemala and the importance of local influence over development
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Studies.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

In 1996, Guatemala achieved peace after 36 years of civil war which took root in the political and social oppression of the country’s vast indigenous population. To counter the country’s widespread poverty, inequality and ongoing political and social frustrations the Guatemalan government adopted a liberal peace building agenda by ‘globalizing’ its economy and by decentralizing the political and economic process. Through this process, Guatemala has achieved a democracy which is accepted by western standards as well as the classification of a middle income country. However, the vast, and predominately rural, indigenous population has been left behind in this progress; it is estimated that 7 out 10 indigenous Guatemalans today are facing more or less severe livelihood conditions below the poverty line, why Guatemala remains one of the most unequal countries in the world. The government now hopes to overcome the shortcomings in the rural sector by stimulating local agricultural projects and ideas which are anchored in the many and various territorially strengths and challenges throughout Guatemala’s countryside; the intention is, in other words, to encourage a stronger local control over the development process.This study explores the conditions for, and the relevance of, local ownership of development in terms of livelihood improvements in Yalambojoch, one indigenous agriculture community in one of the poorest and most war torn regions in Guatemala. An abductive field work with a holistic livelihood-approach has been necessary in order to localize more or less obvious factors that are trapping the village in poverty, and to understand to what degree poverty is determined by the village’s level of autonomy, or ownership, over its development process. The results shows that the village's low livelihood level is determined by agricultural insufficiency, poor access to crucial services and political and socio economic isolation. The village's empowerment is restricted to protection of territory, which reproduces a context in which a more participant autonomy in a wider societal setting is thwarted, where external development projects are often reluctantly rejected due to local mistrust, frustration and discontentment with governmental as well as private agencies and where the livelihood situation consequently remains essentially static.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014.
Keywords [en]
Agriculture, Local ownership, Development, Guatemala, Sustainable livelihoods
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-38562OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-38562DiVA, id: diva2:769961
Educational program
Peace and Development Work, Master Programme, 60 credits
Presentation
2014-08-29, 13:00 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2014-12-11 Created: 2014-12-09 Last updated: 2018-01-11Bibliographically approved

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