Guatemala City: Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom declared "a state of public calamity" late Tuesday to help mobilize funds and resources to confront a food shortage that will affect thousands of families.
"This will help us access resources from the international community that are generously offered for this type of situations and to mobilize national resources more rapidly," Colom said in a statement.
The World Food Program announced it will start distributing 20 tons of nutritional cookies to the most affected areas.
Guatemalan authorities say thousands of families in the Central American country are dangerously short of food due to adverse weather, poor soil and the troubled global economy.
The government estimates 400,000 families are "at risk of food insecurity," Guatemalan presidential spokesman Ronaldo Robles said.
About 13 million people live in Guatemala. The crisis is focused in six provinces known as the "dry corridor," a region that faces annual food shortages.
Last week, a UN official attributed Guatemala`s failure to defeat hunger to its unequal distribution of wealth.