BMZ and Bengo visit CBM Guatemala

A group of people pose for a picture in front of a yellow wall.

Teams from CBM, FUNDAL, Sonrisas que Escuchan, Bengo and BMZ during a visit to the project for hearing health, inclusive education and labour integration for children with disabilities in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

BMZ and Bengo are transforming healthcare and integration in Guatemala through partnerships with CBM. The joint projects focus on hearing care, inclusion of people with disabilities and community-based development that creates equitable opportunities for all, especially for indigenous communities.

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and its advisory entity for civil society organisations, Bengo,  have joined forces with CBM in Guatemala to launch an innovative project in the areas of hearing care and disability inclusion in August 2023. The collaboration focuses on sectors such as ear and hearing care, Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID), labour integration and inclusive education, partnering with two local organisations such as  Fundación Guatemalteca para Niños con Sordoceguera Alex (FUNDAL) and Sonrisas que Escuchan (SqE).

BMZ’s Financial Commitment

The BMZ is currently involved with CBM in Guatemala and finances 75 % of two major projects: the ADISA project on Universal Design of Education, which will be completed by the end of this year with a BMZ contribution of approximately € 442,000 out of a total of € 589,000 and the FUNDAL/SqE project, in which the BMZ is investing almost € 1.2 million of the project budget of € 1.6 million. In total, the BMZ's extensive commitment amounts to around €1.64 million.

BENGO is a programme of Engagement Global that advises German non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on international development projects of the BMZ. The BMZ provides the NGOs with funds to support this work.

Focus on Audiology and Accessibility

The BMZ/BENGO delegation consisted of Ms Barbara Schmitten (Ref Cooperation with Civil Society/BMZ) and Mr Carlos Echegoyen, Advisor for Bengo´s Division Promotion of Projects Abroad in the Regional Department Latin America, Europe, Mediterranean, Horn of Africa. During their project mission, they visited a newly opened audiology clinic in Quetzaltenango. The clinic, which has been in operation for three months, carries out hearing screenings for newborns and works with local hospitals, private clinics and organisations to ensure accessible services, particularly for the indigenous population. Additional clinics have been opened in the departments of Sololá, Escuintla and Zacapa to extend services to other communities and aiming to address healthcare inequalities in the field of hearing care.

Inclusive Education and Sensory Garden Project

Two women with blind folds are being led by a person in a simulation exercise.

During a visit to the CBM and FUNDAL project in Guatemala, representatives from Bengo and BMZ learn about the working methods for deafblind students and how the project ensures that services are tailored to the needs of each individual student.


In Guatemala City, discussions led by Carlos Echegoyen from Bengo and Barbara Schmitten from BMZ together with CBM staff focussed on improving hearing screening measures across the country. These discussions emphasised the development of services in national hospitals and ensuring accessibility in all communities.

Another important discussion centred on the plans for a sensory garden at FUNDAL in Guatemala City. This project, supported by CBM, Bengo and BMZ, is designed to provide a nurturing environment for children and youth with disabilities and to enable them and their families to better integrate into society.

Advancing Inclusion and Healthcare in Guatemala

The delegation also visited FUNDAL in Quetzaltenango where they had the opportunity to participate in psychological counselling sessions and recreational activities for parents of students with disabilities. These visits provided a first-hand insight into the challenges and successes of inclusive education and emphasised the importance of community involvement.

Reflecting on these efforts, Carlos Echegoyen emphasised the need to ensure equal access and culturally relevant care, particularly for indigenous populations. Juliana Turqui, CBM's representative for Central America, expressed her satisfaction with the progress made in levelling inequalities and improving inclusion in a region characterised by stark contrasts.

Through joint projects, BMZ, BENGO and CBM are actively working to minimise the barriers that persons with disabilities face in society and prevent lasting disabilities, promote equal opportunities for economic participation and ensure the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in all areas of society.