Felipe Bosch Gutiérrez/President of Fundación para el Desarrollo (FUNDESA)
Published on Siglo 21 Newspaper – August 27th, 2013
The National Meeting of Entrepreneurs (Enade), to be held on October 10, will focus on solidarity. The roadmap will be the fight against chronic malnutrition and access to education.
According to the organizers, the idea is that on the day the forum is held, proposals for solutions will be presented, which, it is hoped, will be endorsed by the political sectors represented in Congress.
What is the strategy of the meeting?
We call it Mejoremos Guate (Let’s improve Guate). The first theme was attracting investment and job creation, which we addressed in 2012. Then, solidarity, which is the central theme, where we include the fight against chronic malnutrition and access to education. The next one will be security (2014). Those three pillars are based on one aspect, which is the strengthening of institutions.
In Enade 2013, a change is proposed. What does it consist of?
The intention is to avoid a cold proposal. We are going to reach a consensus or, at least, oxygenate with important entities of society. We are inviting the political parties and the technicians of social organizations that have to do with these two issues. By the way, I have been amazed at their capacity.
How is the previous work planned?
Through workshops, basic agreements will be reached and then they will be presented at the Enade, not as a Fundesa proposal but as something agreed upon. It is intended to bring the basic guidelines so that, no matter who governs, the proposal will be respected and promoted. For this reason, we are looking for the secretaries of the parties to sign it. It will be an agreement on where public policies and budget allocations should go.
We know the importance of putting these issues on the table, but what does it mean for the businessman to discuss nutrition and educational quality?
We see that in the business world there is competitiveness. There are other competitors that are trying to do better every day and if we don’t start trying to improve, we will fall behind. The intention is that we have to have the necessary human material so that the country can be competitive. The basic thing is people who are nourished, who are not starving, and educated.
On the issue of malnutrition, there is one issue that has given us trouble, and that is the statistics. We see that in the last 30 years the figure has not moved, the percentage is still around 49% of chronic malnutrition in children. Something radical needs to be done so that this rate can move.
In education there are two specific issues: only 7% of children pass the math test and 24% pass the reading test. That puts us in a complicated situation. We can’t ask much from our young people when they become part of the economically active population.
And what are the target numbers to reduce in nutrition and education?
The great goal proposed is the commemoration of the bicentennial of independence; that is, by 2021 we should be at 32% malnutrition, and the 50% poverty rate should be reduced to 35%. We only have 8 years left, those are 2 or 3 administrations, that is why we talk about the fact that they must be State policies, roadmaps to follow.
Why was it decided to hold the workshops in Quetzaltenango, Cobán, Escuintla, Zacapa and the capital?
We are working on a table of individual issues with indigenous leaders from different parts of the country. In addition, the idea is to work in the four corners of the country. For example, in Cobán, it is important because there are high rates of chronic malnutrition, but there is another important issue, which is electricity.
If there is no connectivity it is very difficult to reduce malnutrition, so the effort needs to be made.