Every Drop Counts! – Water Day, March 22

Every year on March 22nd we celebrate World Water Day. An important date that invites us to reflect further on the value of water for each one of us and for life itself. 

For many, going down to the kitchen for a glass of water or performing daily tasks such as bathing, washing hands or brushing teeth is neither a challenge nor a health threat. Perhaps this is why many of us are even accustomed to wasting water without reflecting on the millions of people who struggle every day to get the vital liquid and for whom every drop counts.  

Worldwide, the scarcity and lack of safe water is alarming. It is estimated that at least 2 billion people use water sources contaminated by feces or other microbes as their main source of drinking water (WHO, 2022). Similarly, 4 billion people (two-thirds of the world’s population) experience water scarcity at least 1 month per year (UNICEF, n.d.).  

This existing water vulnerability (contamination and scarcity) brings serious consequences among which we can highlight: 

  1. Diseases: 829,000 deaths per year due to lack of safe water and sanitation (WHO, 2022). 
  1. Hunger: Inadequate access to water, hygiene and sanitation account for 50% of global malnutrition (UNICEF, 2022). 
  1. Conflict: In places like Cameroon 23,000 have been displaced by conflicts related to lack of water (UNHCR, 2021). 

In Guatemala, the situation is as worrying. Despite the abundance of water resources in the country with our 7 lakes, 19 coastal lagoons, 49 ponds, 109 lagoons, 7 reservoirs and 3 temporary lagoons, it is estimated that more than 90% of the country’s water sources are contaminated (Peace Brigades International, n.d.). At the same time, 3.5 million Guatemalans do not have access to potable water (World Scarcity Clock, 2023) and the lack of adequate and easily accessible sanitation services in homes affects 44% of households in the country (INCAE, 2016). It is worth mentioning that Guatemala also ranks as the 16th most vulnerable country in the world to climate change, which will amplify the magnitude of the impact of scarcity and contamination of water sources in the country. This will affect millions of Guatemalans in their living conditions and, mainly, their health. 

Faced with this situation, year after year Habitat for Humanity Guatemala (HFHG) continues to work hard with local volunteer committees, communities and national and international organizations to reach the neediest families in Guatemala. In this way, HFHG has supported entire communities with water, hygiene and sanitation solutions ranging from water purification filters, pilas, rainwater harvesters and sanitary stations.  

Since 2010, HFHG has delivered 4,385 latrines; 10,157 water purification filters; 1,084 pilas, 3 community water systems and 225 rainwater harvesters. Thus, contributing to bring clean and safe water to many communities throughout Guatemala. At the same time, HFHG is creating a platform to contribute to the promotion and advancement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets and indicators such as Goal 6: clean water and sanitation.  

Through the support of Habitat and its network of collaborators, today more Guatemalan families do not have to worry about their children getting sick from drinking contaminated water, they do not have to travel distances of up to 1 hour several times a day to collect water, and more families have access to safe and quality sanitation services. In addition, having water harvesting systems supports families with water in quantity, and having water purification filters also helps to obtain quality water that is fit for human consumption. All of this also supports the household economy and mitigates the morbidity of gastrointestinal diseases. 

The use of water is everyone’s responsibility, it is not enough just to obtain and purify it, but it is also important that we take care to give primary treatment to wastewater to minimize the environmental impact. HFHG has been working in recent years to implement water sinks in outdoor washing stations, biodigesters and ventilated pit latrines that help protect groundwater from grease, soaps, human excrement and other contaminants. Groundwater accounts for 99% of the planet’s liquid freshwater (UN, 2022), so its care is of utmost importance to minimize the impact of scarcity, pollution and to expand access to safe water for the entire population. 

HFHG’s purpose this year is to continue supporting more Guatemalan families and informing society about the great need that still prevails for many communities to be able to obtain safe water. All of us can support this great cause by donating, volunteering or simply spreading the word about Habitat’s work in order to reach more communities.  

One drop at a time, together we can make a difference  


ACNUR. (09 de septiembre de 2021). ACNUR: Conflictos por el agua obligan a huir a miles de personas del norte de Camerún. Obtenido de https://www.acnur.org/latam/noticias/videos/2021/9/613ac4cf4/conflictos-por-el-agua-obligan-a-huir-a-miles-de-personas-del-norte-de.html 

INCAE. (2016). Estado De la Vivienda En Centroamérica . Costa Rica: INCAE. 

OMS. (21 de marzo de 2022). Agua para consumo humano. Obtenido de https://www.who.int/es/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water 

ONU. (21 de Marzo de 2022). Naciones Unidas: Noticias ONU. Obtenido de https://news.un.org/es/story/2022/03/1505842 

Peace Brigades International. (s.f.). Peace Brigades International: Guatemala. Obtenido de https://pbi-guatemala.org/es/multimedia/art%C3%ADculos/la-escasez-de-agua-en-guatemala-entrevista-gerardo-pa%C3%ADz-ecologista-del#:~:text=%C2%BFCu%C3%A1les%20son%20las%20causas%20de%20la%20escasez%20de,que%20tienen%20un%20efecto%20directo%20sobre%20el%20 

UNICEF. (16 de mayo de 2022). UNICEF. Obtenido de https://www.unicef.org/es/historias/agua-hambre-cosas-que-necesitas-saber#:~:text=Los%20ni%C3%B1os%20malnutridos%20son%20tambi%C3%A9n%20m%C3%A1s%20vulnerables%20a,50%25%20de%20la%20desnutrici%C3%B3n%20mundial.%20UNICEF%2FUNI361793%2FSobecki%20VII%20Photo 

UNICEF: for every child. (2021). Water Security for All: reimagining WASH. New York, USA: United Nations Children’s Fund. 

Water Scarcity Clock. (2021). Water Scarcity Clock. Obtenido de https://worldwater.io/ 

M8: For a Guatemala That Turns Congratulations into Action

Internationally, March 8 of each year represents an important date for each and every woman in society, International Women’s Day. However, more than a day of celebration, congratulations or giving flowers or chocolates, March 8 is a day to commemorate, remember and act in the search for true gender equality. As women, we need the congratulations we receive on this special day to become real actions that promote that all women achieve a dignified life, free of violence and with access to the same opportunities as men.

Hearing congratulations for being a woman in a country like Guatemala, which is ranked 113th out of 146 countries worldwide and last in the region in terms of gender equality, is something that needs to be improved. In Guatemala, we need to make being a woman a synonym of pride and dignity and not a limiting factor in our integral development due to inequality.

Guatemala stands out as one of the countries with the lowest economic participation of women (117th place) and the lowest female political participation (119th place) (World Economic Forum, 2022). In addition, UN (2017) notes that the wage gap between Guatemalan women and men is 32%. That is, in Guatemala for every Q100 a man earns, a woman earns Q68, working an average of 13 hours a day, while men work 11. A situation that mainly affects migrant, indigenous, rural women and young women. Only 37% of Guatemalan women participate in the formal labor market (in contrast to 85% of men); only 27% run their own business and only 28% have access to financial markets (in contrast to 66% of men (USAID, 2023).

So, as women we ask ourselves, is it really something to congratulate being a woman in Guatemala, and can we transform these congratulations into sustainable and impactful actions for women?

At Habitat for Humanity Guatemala (HFHG), we faithfully believe that support for women should be reflected in actions. Therefore, we seek and carry out projects that aim to provide the female empowerment that is needed not only for the benefit of women but also as a boost for the integral development of society as a whole.

Currently, women represent 53% of the beneficiaries of HPHG programs (HPHG, 2020). Such as the Revolving Fund for Humanity program, which provides financial support for the construction of housing solutions. As well as in projects focused on entrepreneurship and income improvement, such as the poultry farms in Morales, Izabal, implemented in 2020 and 2021, which allowed them to have a livelihood for self-consumption and sale.

Likewise, HFHG through the regional Habitat for Humanity and FICEM project called: “100 Thousand Floors to Play On” seeks to replace dirt floors with concrete floors from 2023 to 2025, mainly supporting Guatemalan families where women are the head of household and with children under 6 years of age, older adults, and/or people with disabilities.

Through support in the construction, training and delivery of housing solutions such as wood-saving stoves, latrines, water purification filters and rainwater harvesters, we promote Guatemalan women’s access to dignified, healthy and safe water, hygiene and sanitation solutions. With wood-saving stoves, smoke inhalation is reduced due to the practice of cooking over an open fire, which affects the health mainly of women and young children who spend the most time in the kitchen (HFHG, 2023). This reduces respiratory illnesses by up to 81%. Water filters and rainwater harvesters improve regular access to safe drinking water for human consumption and have a positive impact on the reduction of time spent collecting water, which is usually done by women in the household and to which, in some cases, they dedicate up to 4 or 5 hours a day, allowing them to have time to devote to other tasks such as starting their own business or studying. Finally, through adequate latrines, the lack of safe water and sanitation facilities, the practice of open defecation and one of the main causes of school dropout mainly in women when girls begin menstruation are combated (Adukia, 2016).

That is why, instead of congratulating them on this important date, today HFHG tells Guatemalan women that we will continue with our commitment to develop innovative, sustainable and high impact housing projects that allow all women to empower themselves and have access to a more dignified life. We know that an important step in the quest for Guatemala’s integral development is promoting and acting to improve the current development of Guatemalan women, since we cannot advance as a country when 51% of our population continues to live in conditions of inequality and insecurity.


Written by: Daniela Ramirez, International Resource Development Coordinator.



Adukia, A. (2016). Sanitation and Education. Chicago: University of Chicago.

Hábitat para la Humanidad Guatemala. (2020). Memoria de labores: 2019. Guatemala.

Habitat para la Humanidad Guatemala. (2023). Hábitat para la Humanidad Guatemala. Obtenido de https://www.habitatguate.org/about-us/products/

ICEFI. (2021). Mujeres De Guatemala: Un análisis de sus condiciones económicas y sociales. Guatemala: ICEFI.

Naciones Unidas en Guatemala. (8 de marzo de 2017). Comunicado de prensa: Las mujeres guatemaltecas, hacia un planeta 50-50. Guatemala, Guatemala.

USAID. (enero de 2023). Women in Guatemala. Obtenido de https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/2023-03/Fact%20Sheet%20-%20Women%2001.2023.pdf

World Economic Forum. (Julio de 2022). Global Gender Report: 2022 . Genova, Suiza.