Guatemalan families that cook over open fires are constantly breathing in smoke and consuming great amounts of firewood. Most affected are Guatemala’s most vulnerable populations. Only the poorest families utilize this cooking method, and it affects women and small children, who spend more time in the home and are the ones suffering most from chronic respiratory problems and burns. Starting in 2011, Habitat Guatemala established the project Small Change, Giant Leap with the goal of installing 17,000 smokeless stoves in five years. The stoves are built from adobe blocks with a pipe to carry out the harmful smoke. The multiple-burner metal stove top allows women to dedicate more time to other tasks and to income generation. These improved stoves have other advantages too, including an easy-to-learn assembly process and faster cooking times that can reduce firewood use by up to 50%.
Over four million Guatemalans living in rural areas do not have access to potable water. And while five of the top twenty causes of death can be related to water contamination, only 3% of the population regularly uses water filters. It’s for this reason that Habitat Guatemala started the Clean Water Project, giving families in extreme poverty access to clean drinking water, and consequently, healthier lives.
Only 54% of Guatemalans have access to proper sanitation services. The remainder of the population uses poorly constructed latrines or nothing at all. Sanitation is a clear issue considering that an estimated 85% of waste water is left untreated and often just dumped into local water sources. As part of our Clean Water Project, Habitat Guatemala’s sanitary latrines reduce contamination, while our classes educate families on maintaining healthy homes and good hygienic practices.
Our partner families receive low-interest loans to purchase a plot of land and to build their home while we facilitate access to utilities and services that help promote the growth of a harmonious community. Many families in Guatemala lack the resources to find and attain tenure to land on which they could build a home. To remedy this problem, Habitat Guatemala invests in tracts of land large enough to build new communities of 20 to 100 houses and develops the infrastructure and public areas that are necessary to create a thriving neighborhood.
Progressive homes are simple, affordable two-room structures considered to be starter homes for low-income families. They are built with the same high standards and quality materials used in other Habitat homes but are designed to be expanded over time when the owners are financially stable to do so. We may also build these homes after natural disasters to help displaced people move quickly into new, safe permanent houses.
Habitat Guatemala offers micro-credit loans for affordable home-improvements. Options include replacing, fixing or adding concrete floors, walls, roofing, or doors and windows. With access to these housing solutions, ranging between US $175-450, families can improve their living conditions and create healthier, more stable homes.
Guatemala has the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world and the highest in Central and Latin America—reaching up to 69% in poor, rural, indigenous areas. The problem, however, is not due to a lack of calories, but rather a deficiency in essential vitamins and nutrients that come from balanced diets.
To combat this dire situation, Habitat Guatemala uses community gardens to teach families about improved gardening techniques, vegetable varieties, water management, and nutrition which they can then put into practice in their own family gardens.
For more detailed information about all of our Más que casas projects and programs and how you can donate to a specific project please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org