DEVISADERO, Guatemala — Victoria Lopez cradles her 2-year-old granddaughter Jennifer, whose chubby cheeks, bloated legs and stunted growth make her look much younger than healthy children her age.
"She just sits there. She doesn't move,'' Lopez, 39, said as she rocked the toddler in her arms. ``She's two and not even walking yet.''
Jennifer's condition is not unique among children in the hills of Guatemala's so-called dry corridor along the Pacific. The country's worst drought in 30 years has destroyed 80 percent of the region's crops and claimed the lives of more than a dozen children so far this year. President Alvaro Colom declared the problem a public calamity and joined the United Nations in an urgent appeal for food aid. The World Food Program and other agencies rushed food to Guatemala, but they warn that aid will end by the end of September if more money is not made available.
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