COMMUNITY FOCUS: LA SOLEDAD
Community La Soledad, in the coastal highlands of Guatemala, clings to steep slopes at 5,000’ elevation. Here hikers from around the world hire guides from among five extended families to hike the the dormant Volcano Acetenengo, 13,380’. From base camp hikers view the very active volcano Fuego just 2 kilometers away for all night ooohs and ahhhs as eruptions rumble and flare. The following morning hikers are awakened at 4AM, “vamos arriba chicas y chicos- lets go up girls and boys” to the summit sunrise view as peaks are illuminated and verdant valleys revealed, from the nearby Pacific Ocean to the jungles of the Caribbean.
Most of the 170 families of La Solidad till hillside subsistence plots where they grow the basics; corn, beans, cabbage, squash. Only five people have jobs outside the community. Families earn on average $4.50 per day.
Ample water for the village comes from a newly bored deep well. Water source is considered “improved” but remains not safe for drinking and pipes to the homes recontaminate the water. Organic contamination causes chronic diarrhea and therefore high malnutrition among the children. Low school attendance and low lifetime earnings are the result contaminated water.
Following community meetings and assessments, two elements emerged as primary needs. Pure drinking water, all agreed, is the high test priority.
The second priority is to finish a partially completed public clothes washing facility. Women take laundry 12 miles to a public wash facility, Pilas Publico. The social aspect of this traditional gathering place is valuable in itself, but also the first filter system will be located at the public wash area. The woman will be the primary maintenance and monitoring agents. The community has already contributed $5850, and 75% compete. Remaining cost is $1950. Construction has been monitored by Elmer Arriaga of LBV.
First proposal was 5 small multi-family filters but the elected officials and community suggested a single large filter system could become an enterprise for the women. It was settled enthusiastically that a large size sand filter system will be located at the public laundry and governed and maintained by the women.
METHODS FOR SUCCESS
Prerequisite for any filtration products is a contract signed by elected officials and selected WASH CHAMPIONS, agreeing to assign community members who agree to take the Complete WASH certification training as developed by UNICEF, to include hand washing, bio-sand filtration, latrine construction, menstrual hygiene, food handling and in this case, watershed management. WASH CHAMPIONS will be responsible for community education, governance, maintenance and monitoring and measuring health outcomes.
1 unit @ $5375
Total = $5375
6 Each @ $175
Total = $1050
1 @ $7800
Total = $7800
Total project cost is $14,225, minus $5080 contributed by the community = Net project cost $9,145