Every year, Guatemala undergoes a momentous transition from dry to wet season. During this period, dusty expanses of land will convert into sopping roadways and flooded fields. To avoid torrential downpours, street pedestrians huddle under trash bags, sweatshirt hoods, and whatever other covering that can be scavenged. While some look forward to the rain, many others fear its impacting, if not devastating, consequences.
Regardless of the time of year, mother nature presents itself as a deadly force in Guatemala. In addition to consistent hurricanes and earthquakes, Guatemala is also one of the top ten countries in the world affected by climate change, despite accounting for less than 0.1% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. In country, major industries have negatively impacted precious environmental resources. Every day, these businesses destroy 16 square meters of forest, which as a result, leaves millions of people vulnerable to flooding and landslides.
Guatemalan families living in extreme poverty, or under $2.00 per day, are more threatened by natural disasters than any other demographic group. Most families work in agriculture and are highly dependent on the success of their crops. However, in years where extreme drought or flooding impact the year’s harvest, their very livelihood is thrown into uncertainty.
Despite these uncertainties, every day, we meet determined families that strive to adapt and overcome environmental challenges. Their stories often speak of heartbreak, but above all, echo resilience and determination. Take Lorinda and Juan Sician Chuc, whose entire life has revolved around their crop, but believe that the good of Habitat Guatemala’s projects will prove beneficial on the long term. Or Lucia Tobar Santos, who depends on her five children to find work in the fields, but is leading a healthier lifestyle thanks to small changes.
As the world’s climate changes more quickly than can be reversed, Habitat Guatemala is committed to leverage the high demand and necessity for adequate and safe housing solutions. Little by little, we hope to provide long term options for some of Guatemala’s most deserving families, who shouldn’t have to worry about a place to live if misfortune befalls them.