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.