Usumatlan Zacapa Guatemala Potable Water System Improvements

Weather changes, deforestation, and population growth in Guatemala have become a challenge to provide water in quality and quantity to growing families and communities. This is the case of the families in communities in Usumatlan, Zacapa. Previously, families had a mechanical well that provided intermittent access to water, a shorter water volume in relation to the demand, and an inadequate piping system inadequate for the desired volume extraction.

With the support of the Red Bank Rotary Club and the Ermita Rotary Club Guatemala, the potable water system was improved to provide water in quality and quantity to the Colonies Amway, Luis Samayoa, and Skipper of Usumatlan, Zacapa.

 

Following a community-participatory approach, the needs were identified by the Habitat Guatemala team and the project was developed. The main objectives of the project were to:

  • Improve the pumping system.
  • Increase the amount of water in liters per person from 100 to 150 as dictated by the OMS.
  • Improve the hygiene and health conditions of the communities.
  • Train the communities and water committee for the care and management of the

pumping equipment

  • Inform and educate the population about water sanitation.
  • Train the communities to understand the proper management of water.
  • Train the personnel in charge of operating the electric pumping

 

With these projects Habitat Guatemala will be:

  • Facilitating universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water
  • Facilitating universal and equitable access to improved sanitation and waste management services to achieve open defecation-free communities
  • Improving community hygiene knowledge, behaviors, and practices that help prevent the spread of disease
  • Strengthening the capacity of governments, institutions, and communities to develop, finance, manage, and maintain sustainable water and sanitation services.

We thank all the organizations that join us in building a better Guatemala!

 

 

 

 

42 Healthy Home Kits to coffee-growing families in Chiquimula

Thanks to the support of EFICO Foundation, King Baudouin Foundation and Hesselink Koffie, Habitat for Humanity Guatemala delivered 42 “Healthy Home Kits” to families living in extreme poverty in Caserío El Bendito and Caserío Los Vásquez, Chiquimula.

This project consists of delivering to 33 of the families: a sink (outdoor washing station), a cement floor, a water purifying filter; and to the remaining 9: a smokeless stove, a cement floor and a water purifying filter.

The current living conditions of these families are not conducive to good family health: cooking with an open flame causes excessive indoor smoke exposure and respiratory problems for everyone living there; dirty floors cause the spread of bacteria from outside the home to inside, and harbor insects that transmit infectious diseases. Inadequate washing stations cause the spread of infectious diseases, and the consumption of unpurified water causes gastrointestinal diseases.

The use of these kits seeks to improve the health and well-being of families through access to basic necessities: clean and purified water, a healthy cooking environment and adequate flooring.

In addition, we are contributing to the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda through Sustainable Development Goal 7 “Affordable and Non-Polluting Energy”, as smokeless cookstoves help reduce firewood consumption by 50%. This allows communities to experience less deforestation. Also, the stove technology safely removes smoke and carbon monoxide from inside the home, making firewood a cleaner source of energy.

We thank all the organizations that join us in building a better Guatemala!

 

 

 

 

 

Initiative seeks to replace 100,000 dirt floors with cement floors in Latin America and the Caribbean

Source: Habitat for Humanity Regional Office.

Habitat for Humanity and the Inter-American Cement Federation (FICEM) have launched the initiative “100,000 floors to play on,” with the objective of replacing 100,000 dirt floors with cement among Latin America and the Caribbean’s most vulnerable populations by 2028. Depending on the needs of each household, the project will also offer solutions such as access to water and improved stoves, in order to build a healthy and dignified environment for families’ sustainable and inclusive development.

“100,000 Floors to Play On” is part of the “PISOS S3” program, following a successful pilot project launched in Guatemala in 2021 through a partnership between Cementos Progreso, FICEM, Habitat for Humanity Guatemala, the Guatemalan Cement and Concrete Institute and the Network of Indigenous Entrepreneurs.

The housing deficit in Latin America and the Caribbean affects nearly 40% of the region’s total population. Approximately 6% of households have dirt floors, which can lead to serious illness, particularly among children and elders.

Habitat for Humanity has significant experience with these types of interventions in the region, as we frequently work with them in the countries where we have a presence. We are witnessing how such improvements can significantly change the quality of life and wellbeing of families, providing them with an adequate and healthy environment upon which to build a better future. The “100,000 floors to play on” initiative is a great opportunity to create social benefits that can positively impact thousands of lives,” says Ernesto Castro, Area Vice-president of Habitat for Humanity Latin America and the Caribbean.

 

María José García, Executive Director of FICEM, adds that “the PISOS S3 was organized by the regional cement industry aimed to improve the health and wellbeing of the poorest and most vulnerable families in Latin American and the Caribbean by replacing dirt floors with cement ones to create healthier, safer, and more sustainable homes. Today, we join Habitat for Humanity in launching the “100,000 floors to play on” initiative to transform the lives of 100,000 families in the region by 2028. We understand that this is a significant challenge and must be addressed with caution and responsibility. We know that it requires spreading the word, ensuring a region-wide commitment, and strengthening partnerships.”

The pilot project replaced a total of 1,080 m2 of cement floors, benefiting 32 families from five indigenous communities in the municipality of San Juan Sacatepequez. The project also distributed water filters and provided the beneficiary families with training on healthy homes and floors and water filter use and maintenance.

At Progreso, we believe that a country’s development is improved by providing its inhabitants with better living conditions. Implementing the PISOS S3 pilot in San Juan Sacatepequez is part of our commitment to improve quality of life for people in the countries where we operate by building responsible and sustainable practices that create a place where we want to live,” says José Raúl González, CEO of Progreso.

Dirt floors can become a breeding ground for parasites, bacteria, and insects that cause issues like diarrhea, respiratory diseases, anemia, immunodeficiencies, malnutrition and Chagas disease. Children are most vulnerable when crawling, playing, and walking on the ground; hence the use of “floors to play on.”

For children, the report showed a 70% reduction in parasitic infections, 49% in diarrhea and 81% in anemia, and an increase from 36% to 96% in cognitive development. Adults showed a 59% increase in housing satisfaction, a 52% decrease in depression and a 45% decrease in stress.

“Replacing 100,000 floors in the region will make a real difference in these families’ lives. Cement floors are low cost and environmentally friendly, their raw materials are produced locally, and they improve climatic comfort inside the house. These interventions save lives, prevent disease, improve the quality of life, contribute to poverty reduction, help mitigate climate change and forward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals,” says García.

“100,000 floors to play on” benefits poverty-stricken families throughout Latin America and the Caribbean who live in houses made from poor quality materials (such as dirt floors) that make them more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This is particularly true of homes with female heads of household, children under six years of age, older adults and/or people with disabilities.

We are currently seeking partnerships in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Central America for the first phase of the initiative. We are also working to extend our partnership with Cementos Progreso in Guatemala and other countries in the region where the company works. Replacing 100,000 floors in six years is clearly an ambitious goal and will only be achieved by working in partnership with the government and the public and private sectors. For this reason, we invite cement companies, governments and other stakeholders in Latin America and the Caribbean to join us in improving the health and quality of life of the most vulnerable families,” says Castro.

Both Habitat for Humanity and FICEM plan to continue working together in the long-term, replacing a total of 10 million floors by 2050 and make significant strides toward the end goal of eradicating dirt floors in the region. For more information on how your company or organization can join “100,000 floors to play on,” please contact lac@habitat.org or lrojas@ficem.org.

 

#meet our partners – Let hope begin here

In the community of Guayabales, Chiquimulilla, Santa Rosa, under the shade of two trees, with the rocks serving as seats and accompanied by a gentle breeze, we talked with Scott and Jane, who shared the story of how Let Hope Begin Here Guatemala was founded and what these past 15 years have been like.  

Let Hope Begin Here Guatemala started 15 years ago when Scott Robertson was looking for opportunities to support a local orphanage. He met with a government official during a holiday. “This is what I call a “what are the chances” story”, –Scott said– “I asked him one of the most important questions of my life: What can I do for you? What would you like to do for your people?” He brought back a letter from a village asking for support.    

This marked the beginning of the journey to Guayabales. On the first visit, the entire community was waiting for them, because no one had been willing to help them in the past. Octaviano, the Major of the community, identified the following needs as priorities: 1. an economic program for the women, 2. health care for the women and children and 3. a technical vocational school to educate the children out of poverty. And so, Scott began the process of finding other good people and organizations that had the same vision.   

Scott and Jane had known each other since childhood because their parents went to college together. Even when they moved to separate towns, their parents always exchanged Christmas cards. Jane traveled to Guatemala and fell in love with the country, so in one of the Christmas cards, Jane found out about Scott’s work in Guatemala and contacted him. After learning about the help needed for Guayabales, she invited her son to participate in this project. On their first trip to Guayabales, they brought construction materials to build a new roof in the community school. “The metal sheet was bouncing on the back of the truck and everyone said, Yay! It´s real! It´s real! and everyone in the village started helping”, recalls Jane. 

They recall that one of the main requests Octaviano had been: “Do not come up and do it for us. Come and teach us so we can do it for ourselves”. That’s what Let Hope Begin Here Guatemala did. The organization provided funds and experts. The community provided the labor and willingness to learn.  Since then, Let Hope Begin Here Guatemala, works alongside the community and has supported Guayabales with a rainwater catchment system, a water purification system, a single line bridge, a series of training, and plenty more meaningful interventions to make Guayabales a self–sustained community.  

about our partnership

In January 2022, Let Hope Begin Here Guatemala partnered with Habitat for Humanity Guatemala to build a teacher’s home . Like many of the communities in rural Guatemala, access to Guayabales is not easy. The road is in poor condition and during the rainy season, access is difficult. Scott explains; “this house is a solution to the problem of being able to keep teachers for the full school year due to difficulty accessing the community. The teachers currently travel by motorcycle in the raining season. By the time they get there it’s time to go back home, so the children are only getting educated one or two days a week and are getting further and further behind in their education”. 

What does this project and the community mean to you?

Jane smiles and answers: “I think everything! It seems to me that you cannot help them enough, their needs and aspirations are endless, and the most valuable we can do is provide them solutions to sustain themselves, because I am not going to be around for that much longer”. We are seeing kids grow up! We have met them since they were little kids.. 

 Scott adds: “Our work is to teach them well and put ourselves out of the job to help them get to the point where they can do it by themselves”. It is complicated to explain in words what something means which doesn’t have words, but when people come, they know. And after 15 years, the one thing that we have is credibility, they know we listen, they know we care and they know we will respond “. 

Final message to our donors, volunteers and partners

“As John Stuart Mill said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing´, so, I don’t want to be that type of men”. – Scott Robertson.   

 “With this house we hope we will have been a life-changing impact for the whole community here”. – Jane Ragsdale.   

“Next to your love, your work is the most powerful thing that you can give to someone else. Your work is what you have to give and it is the most powerful way to show your love”. – Mitch Mitchel.  

“The support of Let Hope Begin Here Guatemala, has been of great blessing for all of us. We have felt very blessed by God. God has listened to us and heard our requests. We feel very grateful for all the support. We know that we are not alone, that there is someone who is looking out for us”. – Octaviano Santos (Mayor of Guayabales). 

Habitat for Humanity Guatemala is grateful to take part in these partnerships that continue to contribute to the construction of a better Guatemala!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reverting the effects of the pandemic in the education and health of children – Hearts4Guatemala

In the rural areas of Guatemala, more than 20% of the population does not have access to drinking water, the rest of the population are subject to intermittent services that sometimes do not have a good quality or enough quantity. The need for water was exacerbated after the COVID-19 pandemic, where regulations and protocols recommended constant handwashing to prevent the spread of infections. These water issues have had a big impact on the educational opportunities for children, as many schools did not have access to water which prevented the implementation of prevention protocols.

This is the case of the school Mario Morales Monroy in the community of Susho Abajo in Chiquimula. Before classes were suspended due to the spread of COVID-19, there was an attendance of 600 students in this school. Water is very scarce in the community, increasing the vulnerability to the spread of viruses and bacteria that can be prevented through proper handwashing and sanitation. Additionally, there were recurring gastrointestinal diseases from the ingestion of contaminated water.

In partnership with Hearts4Guatemala, the school was equipped with 11,600 liters of safe drinking water through two water filtration systems. Additionally, rainwater is collected through the roof of the schools’ court and stored in a water tank to supply the school during the dry season. In addition to our regular educational component, Habitat for Humanity Guatemala provided training on the proper use of water sources and COVID-19 mitigation.

Thanks to this intervention, the school in Susho Abajo will be the first and only school to resume operations in the area and reopen for in-person classes. While the world adjusted to prevent the spread of infections during the COVID-19 pandemic, many vulnerable groups were faced with bigger challenges that delayed the improvements achieved in the past. This was the main motivation to the project and, in light of World Social Justice Day, Habitat for Humanity in collaboration with Hearts4Guatemala aims to provide equal opportunities for everyone and revert the effects of the pandemic in the education and health of children.

 

 

 

Improving the lives of people living with disabilities in Sololá

In Guatemala, children and adults with disabilities are among the most invisible to society in all fields, levels, and processes of social development. The majority of families of people with disabilities are living in poverty and extreme poverty, with no access to a decent home, lacking basic amenities like water, electricity, bathroom, kitchen, etc., and with an education and healthcare systems that are not designed for diversity.

In the communities of Santiago Atitlán, one of the most illiterate municipalities in the department and the one with the greatest poverty, at least 10.4% of the population are estimated to have some type of disability. Through a 3-year joint project between Habitat Canada, Habitat Guatemala, Hope & Healing International, and ADISA in Guatemala, both ADISA and Habitat Guatemala have supported the quality of life of the families in Santiago Atitlán by providing comprehensive care, healthcare, education, employment, and empowerment programs, and access to adequate housing.

In the first year of implementation, we were able to support 15 families living with people with disabilities in accessing adequate housing, healthcare, inclusive education, and employment opportunities. This was achieved through the construction of a new home, the implementation of a curriculum for vocational training and entrepreneurial education and training, providing job search support, mental health workshops, risk management education, and medical follow-up care, and the distribution of health home kits and installation of pilas. For years 2 and 3, we expect to support 15 additional families living with people with disabilities in Santiago Atitlán each year with an adequate housing solution and the establishment of a poultry farm and family garden for the production of eggs and vegetables to improve their diet and socioeconomic status through the sale of the surplus in the community.

Thank you Habitat Canada, Hope & Healing, and ADISA Guatemala for their work in improving the quality of life of people with disabilities and their families in Santiago Attitlán so that they are included in their communities and enjoy their rights to the fullest.

 

 

Giving Season – Safe drinking water for Quinales

During giving season charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. This Giving Season join us and be a part of a global celebration!

It’s a simple idea: find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give thanks by giving to a charity in need of their support.

Habitat for Humanity Guatemala has the goal of raising $2,000 for our 18 families in the community of  Quinales, Izabal. We will purchase a water filter and replacement cartridge for each family, guaranteeing access to clean drinking water for up to 4 years for 108 people.

About the community

The community of Quinales is in the department of Izabal and is comprised of 18 families. It is one of the regions most severely affected by tropical storms Eta and Iota, where people lost their homes, livestock, livelihoods, and other community infrastructure.

Both urgent and long-term needs arouse as the community was left inaccessible and received little to no outside support. Climate change events negatively impact families living in poverty and extreme poverty, as they lack the resources and capacity to adapt to environmental changes and natural disaster impacts.

For most of the year, little rain falls in Quinales, limiting access to water in quantity and constancy.

Additionally, the contamination of the Motagua River prevents people from using the water for human consumption. The important lack of quantity and quality of water limits the developtment and welfare in terms of access to safe water or daily consumption, quality of life, and health for the families in Quinales, who almost a year later, are still recovering from the effects of tropical storms Eta and Iota.

 

Join us to be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity and lets provide safe drinking water for the community of Quinales!

 

 

 

 

Integral Water and Sanitation Hygiene Project in Baja Verapaz

Since 2011, Habitat for Humanity Guatemala has expanded the definition of a housing solution to include more than just homes. Although four walls and a roof over head are essential to a family’s well-being, one must take into consideration other components such as access to clean drinking water and proper waste water management and sanitation. It is for this reason that Habitat Guatemala created the Healthy Home Kit, which consists of a smokeless stove, a latrine, and a water filter, and has adapted the products that this kit includes over time. During the last week of February 2021, Habitat Guatemala concluded a one-of-a-kind integral WASH (Water and Sanitation Hygiene) project, further evolving the type of solutions that it provides.

Several years ago, upon visiting the community of San Juan, Salamá, Baja Verapaz, it was evident that many members of the community were in need of several improvements to their current sanitary situations. During the first field visit that was conducted by Habitat Guatemala staff, families mentioned utilizing dilapidated and precarious latrines and lamented inconsistent access to water. Upon learning of Habitat for Humanity Canada’s desire to support this community, a plan to implement a unique project was devised.

Over the course of one year, 56 families were involved in the construction and implementation of seven products within each household. Through the installation of a biodigestor and porcelain toilet, families now have access to a private space to use the restroom, and are assured that the waste is treated in an adequate manner. With the placement of a small tower and water tank, families no longer have to worry about whether or not there will be water when they turn on the faucet, rather, they have access to a consistent source of water. In addition, the construction of a shower and a pila (washing station) ensures that all 225 individuals who participated in the project can now conduct proper daily hygiene practices and prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Lastly, each family was the recipient of a water filter, meaning they no longer have to worry about contracting gastrointestinal diseases upon consuming water. To complement these solutions, Habitat Guatemala carried out several educational trainings to ensure that families understand how to use and maintain these products, ensuring the sustainability of the project.

The needs that San Juan presented prior to this project are not unique. It is Habitat Guatemala’s hope that we can continue to implement similar projects across the country. We are grateful to our partners, like Habitat for Humanity Canada, who realize the value of these type of interventions and who support us in our journey towards improving the quality of life of individuals across Guatemala.