Year 2019 Guatemala


San Antonio Ilotenango is known as the start of the dry corridor in Guatemala. The municipality receives between 1000 and 2000 millimeters of rainfall each rainy season, which is about half as much as the hotter, humid, coastal regions. After attending a Climate Crowd training in the fall of 2018, a Peace Corps volunteer working in Guatemala conducted interviews in his host community to learn about the local impacts of climate change. Interview respondents reported that in recent years the rainy season has become shorter and less predictable, the canícula (a short dry spell that occurs in the middle of the wet season in much of Central America) has grown longer, and the rains overall have become weaker. According to interviewees, these changes have led to severe crop losses. This loss extends to schools as well, which are required by law to source 50% of school meal ingredients from within the community. The Ministry of Agriculture has strived to implement school gardens, but the gardens have struggled to actually produce due to a lack of water. In response, the volunteer together with local partners established a rain catchment system, which stores up to 12,000 liters and is connected to a drip irrigation system that supplies water to a newly established school garden. To date, the garden has produced 88 pounds of produce including radishes, onions, zucchini, beets, swiss chard, carrots, and amaranth seeds.



Water capture construction:

The project began with a series of school visits to assess the feasibility of a water capture project as well as gauge interest for collaborating on said project. Once a school was selected, a meeting was held to go over the project plan with members of the community, gain their input in the planning process and make adjustments accordingly. The project team and members of the community together formulated and signed a statement delegating various responsibilities related to the project.

The project team selected the design and layout of the water capture and irrigation system based on input from experts from a local NGO called Water for People and with help from an architectural student from the University of San Carlos. Construction of the tank was completed over the course of two weeks by a local contractor who specializes in water storage systems, with help from the project team. The volunteer worked with interns from the University of San Carlos as well as the teachers from the school to install the rain gutters that feed into the tank. As a final touch, the volunteer and one of the interns painted a world map on the side of the tank.

School Garden Implementation:

The team of interns, teachers from the school, and the Peace Corps volunteer removed trash, debris and grass from a patch of land at the school, and tilled the soil to ready it for planting. Once complete, project leads conducted several trainings for students: two on how to make organic compost, one on how to sow seeds, and one on transplanting crops.

Through these trainings, students themselves planted the vegetables in their school garden. Throughout the school year as crops ripen, the teachers harvest them for use in the school meals. Crops harvested so far include Swiss chard, Radishes, and Zucchini.


Left: Before project; Right: After project (post-harvest)



  • Seeds donated from the Ministry of Agriculture were used to plant the school garden
  • The community provided the hoes, shovels and pix-mattocks used to cultivate the land
  • Cement, iron bars, mesh, and PVC piping were used to construct the storage tank
  • Large PVC piping was used to construct the drain pipes that collect the water from the roof
  • Black plastic tubing and PVC piping was used to create the drip irrigation system
  • Organic compost was created by materials collected by the students, such as cow and chicken manure, corn stalks and husks, lime, ash, and soil

Important considerations

  • To address concerns about equity related to other schools in the area who are not currently benefiting from the project, organizers have proposed an application system for future years during which the project may be replicated.
  • Proper precautions need to be taken to ensure that sensitive equipment is not damaged, particularly since this project is located on school grounds. In this case a wooden covering was built around the pump and secured with a lock to prevent students from accessing it.
  • Metal rain gutters did not withstand the weather and had to be replaced with sturdier PVC piping.
  • This year’s rainfall prior to the start of the canícula was insufficient for obtaining the minimum amount of water for irrigation. It was not until the second half of the rainy season that the system was able to collect a substantial amount of water. Other options such as recycling greywater from schools and households that rely on groundwater may be a good alternative or supplement to rainwater harvesting.


Direct outputs

  • One rainwater harvesting system installed with the capacity to hold 12,000 liters of water
  • 80 sq meters of land cultivated on the school grounds

Capacity building

Individuals who received a series of trainings on organic fertilizers, transplanting, and water capture system upkeep:

  • 7 teachers
  • 32 students

Outcomes to date

  • 88 pounds of food harvested from the garden, which was used in school meals and distributed to the community during school vacations


Reported changes in weather and climate

  • Decreased rainfall
  • Changes in the timing of seasons
  • Drought
  • Loss of water source

Type of Climate adaptation

  • Crop practices
  • Water management