Seva helps bring safe water to remote areas of Guatemala
In many parts of Guatemala, keeping a family supplied with safe water each day is a big job. An estimated 60-70% of the rural population do not have potable water in their homes, and women often cross great distances to fetch water for their families. Without ready access to clean water, people are at risk for poor health and disease. In fact, about 80% of all illnesses in developing countries are directly related to poor sanitation conditions and the lack of accessible water systems.
But in a local community of northern Guatemala called Tamariz, Las Vegas,
Seva is partnering with local groups to improve access to clean water. Empowering indigenous people to improve local water systems is a big part of Seva's Community Self-Development Program.
Working alongside AGUA, a local association, Seva provided resources and organizational support to build the infrastructure for new water systems — a foundation for health and self-sustainability for this region.
The Power of Community
The collaboration has been a resounding success. Over the past year, AGUA worked with community members to study existing piping, plan a new system, buy materials, install chlorination equipment and public spigots, and train plumbers and members of the committee to maintain the system.
Now, 85 families have fresh, clean water piped to their homes, along with 42 public water taps at locations throughout the community.
The achievement shows what can happen when Seva supports a community that pulls together toward a common goal. To build the new system, the community contributed the local construction material, such as sand, gravel, and rocks; organized to raise funds; and contributed approximately 25 days of labor for each head of the area's 255 families.
"Before the water system was built, the community had thought about moving to another location with better water access," says Emilio Alberto Quevedo Monterroso, Director and Legal Representative, AGUA Association. "But now I believe the people will think of settling down here and stay to grow as a community."
Work Continues — With New Hope for the Future
Now the work continues, as they expand the system to reach the remaining 170 families in outlying areas of the community. Additionally, the people of Tamariz, Las Vegas now face a new challenge: maintaining the water system so it will provide benefits for years to come. That's why Seva provided a separate grant to AGUA to help build a training facility nearby where people can learn how to take care of the community water systems.
It all adds up to a new feeling of hope for the future. "Now that they have success bringing the water, the people feel happy," says Don Ernesto, a community leader. "As a community, the people feel more stable and believe that they can initiate other processes of development. All of the time taken on the water project can now be spent improving other aspects of the community and their families."