The U.N. SDG #6 Access to clean water and sanitation is particularly relevant for many areas of Guatemala. 53 percent of the six million people who live in Guatemala exist below the poverty line and just over half (51%) have no sanitation.
Although there have been government initiatives put in place, and the situation is definitely much improved, rural areas still suffer from a lack of clean water and access to sanitation.
According to researchers of the Unit of Hydrochemistry of the Insivumeh, river water samples tested showed the existence of bacteriological contamination, especially for communities that live on the banks of the tributaries.
“The main sources of contamination are found in places with a larger population, since the drains of the houses flow into the rivers and the water is also used to wash clothes,” explained Claudia Cordero, from the Insivumeh ‘s Hydrochemistry Unit. “The rivers are bacteriologically contaminated and there are no treatment plants in the municipalities where rivers cross.”
The poorer people in the rural areas of the country depend on these streams and rivers for drinking water, but this parasite-infested water creates health problems and tragically causes the death of 1 out of 20 children before the age of 5.
AgroAmerica, together with USAID|Alianzas, provided 690 natural clay filters made by EcoFiltro to families in communities near its operations to reduce the incidence of diarrhea and other intestinal infections and improve food security, by bringing clean water to over 3,000 people in the rural area of San Marcos and Quetzaltenango.
AgroAmerica also donated 400 ecological filters (Ecofiltros) to rural schools in Escuintla, San Marcos, Retalhuleu and Quetzaltenango, benefiting 11,000 children where the majority of children of AgroAmerica’s employees attend school. We also trained families on the importance of consuming safe water.
Ecofiltro’s objective is to reach 1 million rural Guatemalans with clean water by the year 2020 and we’re proud to play a small part in that goal. As part of this initiative Ecofiltro also trained families in the use and maintenance of filters and organized communities to foster a savings plan to replace the filter unit every two years and ensure the proper functioning of the filters. Each community made a token payment and the proceeds will be used to buy more filters for schools and health centers in the communities.