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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.

The Design

Rainwater harvesting systems collect rain that falls on the roof of a home and store it for later use. The
systems are designed to supply a family with enough water for drinking and cooking year-round.
There are four main components of an EWB-USA WPI rainwater harvesting system: gutters,
first flush, water storage tanks, overflow, and concrete bases.

Project Timeline


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 team aimed to find the optimal location for the water catchment system where it would collect an adequate supply of water for the community and be protected from possible contaminants. Working with the 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.
March 2017

Implementation (I)

The GWS team and the community of Caserio Panhux constructed 14 rainwater catchment systems in 14 households. The team stayed with host families located in San Cristobal, 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 implementation trip culminated with a thank-you feast organized by the community of Caserio Panhux, which included music, food, and laughs with everyone.
August 2018

Implementation (II)

The team and community constructed 20 more rainwater catchment systems during the second implementation trip in December 2018. New first-flush systems were implemented on both the current 20 houses and the 14 houses from the previous trip to be more effective and user-friendly. The team also visited the houses that would receive systems on the next trip to better prepare for the following implementation.
December 2018

Implementation (III)

16 more systems were completed on the most recent implementation trip in August 2019. Since nine of the homes set to receive systems had plant roofs, these systems were instead completed on side structures with lamina roofs to ensure equal access to water for all members of the community. Time was spent interviewing the women whose families had received rainwater catchment systems on the previous implementation trips to assess their effectiveness. These conversations also allowed the team the opportunity to evaluate what modifications would need to be done on the existing systems during the last implementation trip.
August 2019

Remote Implementation (I)

The original scope of work for the project is to design and implement rainwater catchment systems on 62 facilities, including the school and two churches in Caserio Panhux, Guatemala. However, there has been an additional need identified in the community and this trip built 10 rainwater catchment systems in the spring of 2022.  It was revealed that leaks in the gutter connections were the main culprit, leading to a lower rainwater catchment efficiency. Some tanks were additionally having issues with water storage quantities due to leaks in the tank’s valve. The faulty tank valves were fixed by emptying the tank and replacing the faulty valve with a new, higher-quality part. The initial notification of these issues was provided through continued communication with an in-country NGO (CeCEP).
March 2022

Monitoring (I)

The monitoring trip of 2022 proved to be an invaluable endeavor, as it allowed the team to conduct comprehensive surveys of the community and assess the effectiveness of the current systems in place. Extensive water quality tests were carried out, with the primary goal of ensuring that the water met the necessary standards for consumption and domestic use. However, the results revealed that the water quality fell short of the desired standard, requiring further investigation and potential modifications to the existing systems.
December 2022

Monitoring (II)

As the final stage of this project, the team was planning a trip in December 2023 to complete the water tank training, implement a new roof system at the school, and scout new locations for the next project in Guatemala. However, due to the political instability, the team has rescheduled this trip for Spring 2024.
March 2024

Watch our most recent trip video for an in-depth look.

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