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Central AmericaGuatemala

The results of a long journey

The Municipal District of Ixcán in Guatemala is inhabited mostly by indigenous peoples and is characterized by high rates of both moderate and extreme poverty. For many of its residents, migration is the only solution. Since 2013, we have been working together with ACCSS in the care of migrants and returnees in Ixcán, and in the promotion of alternatives to migration. This project will end in 2024.

Women perform at the International Youth Day Festival

Ixcán is located near the border with Mexico, which has led to a significant flow of migrants seeking better life opportunities in Mexico and the United States. The area is also experiencing the exploitation of agro-industrial, energy and oil mega-projects, which have been rejected by the population due to their negative impact on the environment and the community's quality of life.

The geographic location, together with the lack of opportunities for development, education and work, beyond a subsistence peasant economy, encourage and favor migration to Mexico and the United States. Ixcán has become a territory of expulsion, transit and return of migrants, mainly young people who lose their identity and values by getting involved in drug trafficking, smuggling and human trafficking, which destroy family cohesion. As a result, many of them lose the support of their families, which brings family breakdown as a consequence.

The big human trafficking businesses are installed where the presence of the state is weak or non-existent. To the United States alone, the lack of social structures and poverty have expelled more than 3 million Guatemalans in search of development opportunities. Those who migrate are mostly indigenous peasants who need to improve their living conditions: housing, education, food for their children.


ACCSS, our partner since 2013, has succeeded with previous projects funded by AWO International, to break the taboo on migration issues in the Municipality of Ixcán and to train political authorities and teachers. Its materials are even taught in schools as didactic material. With hard work in advocacy and institutional strengthening, they have become a reference in the defense of migratory rights. They provide advice at the Migrant Attention Office, which is even recognized by US organizations to refer returnees and/or children in need of family reunification. In this project phase from 2022 to 2024, ACCSS will seek to achieve the self-sustainability of the social structures already created in previous projects: youth groups and self-help groups in five communities of Ixcán.


Our project stimulates the emergence of new community leaders. The participants are young men and women, members of youth and self-help groups, who are accompanied and trained in gender issues and new masculinities so that they can achieve a more complete level of leadership and participation. Gender training enables them to understand and address gender-based inequalities and discrimination, and to promote equal opportunities and rights for both men and women affected by migration.

The participants in this project face the limitations of a patriarchal community context, which limits the participation and inclusion of women and youth in power. The training provided by ACCSS empowers women, historically subjected to sociocultural rules of obedience and submission. It also provides a space for public opinion to those young men who are not family heads and who would otherwise be socially invalidated in expressing their opinion.


This is the last stage of a long project with ACCSS that will conclude in 2024. To ensure the permanence of the social structures created in the communities, we will work with the different networks and groups established to strengthen the tools learned.

Throughout these years of work, the participating young people and women have learned management tools, created a cooperative and learned to produce resources to trade and/or sell to finance their activities. These knowledge tools will allow them to be self-sustaining, even after the project has ended, to continue serving new migrants and to continue promoting alternatives to migration for the region's youth.

In the specific case of the Ak Molam youth network, the knowledge received on primary physical health care and psychosocial care for migrants in transit or returnees will be strengthened. These beneficiaries are trained to defend community demands in community, regional and national spaces. In order for the Migrant Assistance Office to continue functioning, inter-institutional alliances will be created and strengthened with other actors related to the subject.


Project Sustainability of social structures with a gender perspective in Ixcán
Place/Region Guatemala Department of Quiché, Municipality of Ixcán: Communities of San Pablo, Trinitaria, La Ceiba, Los Ángeles, Nueva Jerusalén and Zone 1 of Playa Grande.
Partner Asociación Coordinadora de Servicios para la Salud (ACCSS)
Target group 6825 people between 12-30 years of age, mostly indigenous people from the Kèqchí culture - women 3388; men 3437-.
  • Train participants from youth networks, women's groups and self-help groups in self-support tools
  • Strengthening self-determined migration decisions and promoting safe migration
  • Psychosocial support to family members and returned migrants
  • Improving the prospect of permanence for young people: Implementation of income-generating measures
Duration 2022-2024
Budget 80.000€ annually
Sponsor BMZ (Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany)

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