The municipality of San Bartolome Jocotenango in Guatemala’s Quiche department faces many challenges. It consistently ranks as having one of the highest rates of food insecurity and chronic malnutrition in Quiche, with few reliable employment opportunities available. Moreover, climate change has greatly affected the area, which lies in what is known as the dry corridor. Interviews with local community members indicate that yearly heat waves have become longer and more intense, and that yearly rains have become more sporadic and less reliable. These changes have led to decreased flows of local water sources, the disappearance of streams, and prolonged periods of drought making farming more difficult.
Though most people lack access to irrigation, the municipality does provide residents with piped water for household use (i.e. cooking and cleaning). This averages out to approximately 20,000 liters per month per household that can be filtered and repurposed for drip irrigation of home gardens and farm plots. Through this project, the San Bartolome Comprehensive Agricultural Cooperative (COSABA R.L) constructed two greywater filtration systems in the community of Los Cimientos to serve as examples of sustainable climate change adaptation measures and to improve capacity in local agricultural production. Three additional systems will be constructed in Las Cuevas and Chota’aj communities once COVID-related restrictions are lifted and work can resume. The systems consist of two concrete basins used to capture greywater, and layers of charcoal, ash, sand and rock, that serve to filter it in combination nitrogenating plants. The filtered water is collected in a large barrel and connected to a drip irrigation system on the property, where it is used to grow vegetables.
Above: farm plots before project completion
- The initially proposed installation sites were rejected by the local community council due to concerns that not everyone within the community would equally benefit from the project, despite the requisite financial contribution by the target households. As a result the project was moved to a different community where there was local buy-in/support
- Due to COVID, Peace Corps volunteers had to be evacuated. However, because the project was made possible through a partnership with a local cooperative and agricultural extension officers, project activities can still move forward once stay-at-home orders are lifted.
- Organic matter for the development of organic pesticide, fungicide, and fertilizer
- Seedlings (cucumber, tomato, chile pimiento, soy)
- Cement Cinder blocks
- PVC pipes/accessories
- 2 greywater filtration systems constructed
- construction of additional 3 systems still pending
- 2 families trained on filtration system construction and maintenance
- Improved access to a consistent source of water to support local livelihoods
- This project will help the cooperative attract new members and serve as examples for other farmers in the region interested in employing greywater harvesting