CASERIO PANHUX, GUATEMALA
Caserio Panhux, a very small community of about 350 people, is located in central Guatemala. Many members of the community are indigenous Pokomchi. The community is one of many in the municipality, San Cristobal Verapaz, and is located 17 kilometers from the town center, an hour and a half by public transportation. This community does not have access to potable water and the women have to travel very far to existing water sources.
Water is not easily accessible; to improve the quality of life for the residents of Caserio Panhux, rainwater harvesting systems are being implemented in the community. This system ensures that clean water can be used all year round for essential daily tasks such as cooking, consumption, and hygiene so as to reduce the risk of waterborne diseases.
2017 SUMMER ASSESSMENT
In March of 2017, during NC State’s spring break, seven students and one international development mentor from EWB-USA traveled to Guatemala for the first face-to-face contact with the community. They conducted assessments of the community’s current water supply and storage, and the main road leading into the community.
The team aimed to find the optimal location for the water catchment system where it will collect an adequate supply of water for the community and be protected from possible contaminants. Measurements were taken so the team can decide on the placement of an updated storage tank, and eventually produce digital renderings of the project to show the community before the implementation trip. Lastly, the team assessed the condition of the main road with intent to either widen or otherwise improve the state of the road and ease travel within the community.
Working in conjunction with our local partner NGO, the Centro Comunitario Educativo Pokomchi (CeCEP), to provide the community with water catchment systems will bring both tangible and intangible benefits to the residents. This water collection system will improve the quality and quantity of potable water throughout the duration of the year. Implementation of this system will also familiarize students with reproducible technology that can be implemented and improved in their homes and other regions.
To strengthen this effort, we will maintain an open dialogue with the community about the operation and prevalent usage of such water systems while taking advantage of the in-region commitment and resources of CeCEP to provide ongoing support that continues beyond the duration of our trips.
2018 SUMMER IMPLEMENTATION
Spanning ten days, the GWS team and the community of Caserio Panhux constructed 14 rainwater catchment systems on 14 households from August 11th until August 21st. During this time, the team stayed with generous host families located in San Cristbal, about a 50 minute drive through winding roads from Caserio Panhux. Daily, the team would arrive around 7 AM and begin a long day of construction. The community took part too, and would work with the team all day, often coming up with solutions better than their own. The systems themselves consisted of locally sourced materials, and included running gutters along the roofs of the houses and having those feed into a 2500 L storage tank resting on a square base of wood, dirt, and gravel, with sets of filters in between. In part, the systems seemed like a simple idea, but many challenges arose and the team had to adapt quickly and effectively. In the end, the GWS team and community were able to overcome all challenges, such as late deliveries and dead drill batteries, to reach their goal on completing 14 systems. The implementation trip culminated with a thank you feast organized by the community of Caserio Panhux, which included music, food, and laughs with everyone. The team returned on the evening of August 21st, just before a new semester of classes at NC State. Work still needs to be done though, and the GWS team is eager to return to the remaining 40 homes. The current plan is to travel again for another round of implementation in December 2018.
See our 2017 GWS video and travel book below to learn more about this project!