This year, Run For H2O Vancouver is supporting the village of Chixocol, Guatemala – home to 200 families (more than 1,200 people) in the province of Quiché. The community is located in a mountainous area 1,486m above sea level- so high that there are no upstream sources of water.
Chixocol is 3 km away from Zacualpa, the closest municipality. With no safe road into the community, residents are isolated from the luxuries of the town - abundant food, a market, plumbing, and clean water. The only sources of water for the families of Chixocol are from a small creek at the bottom of the valley. To drink, cook, bathe, wash, and feed animals, families – especially women and children – must make the long, exhausting trek of about 4 kilometres up to 3 times daily, carrying heavy loads of water up the mountain to their homes. This walk takes up to 60 minutes and families will spend 2-3 hours everyday simply walking. Even after finishing their last trip for the day, families cannot relax due to the fear of illness. Water is often contaminated with bacteria and pathogens, causing frequent diarrhea and waterborne illnesses.
Most families in Chixocol are farmers, growing corn and beans for their own consumption. Families also seek work outside the community as day labourers in larger cities and on coffee and sugar plantations, but this work is often in precarious conditions, and poorly paid. A secure supply of clean water would provide families in Chixocol with the health, time, and dignified opportunities to improve their livelihoods at home.
The community of Chixocol is hopeful for the changes they will soon be able to make. With your support, the Run for H2O will be able to provide the funds needed gravity water system in Chixocol.
All the families are organized, ready, and eager to put in the hard physical work to build the water system, including collecting local materials like stone and sand from the riverbeds and carrying them up the mountainside; carrying cement, pipes, and tools to wherever they are needed; and digging trenches and installing pipes for the water distribution.
The community has already elected a "Water Project Committee", a group of volunteer leaders to help coordinate and lead the process. Once the water system is complete, every member of the community will have a good understanding of the technical aspects of the system to maintain it in the future.
To ensure sustainability of the water system and usage, the community will also elect a "Water Maintenance Committee,” trusted and respected community members responsible for inspecting the system each month, cleaning the infrastructure, and making any adjustments and repairs as needed.
Together, the community will also make a plan for each family to contribute a small monthly amount — around Q5 ($1), or an amount at each harvest season. This ensures that funds are available for any repairs needed in the future.
The community of Chixocol sits 2km from an abundant supply of water. This project will cap a spring by building a concrete “cover” to protect the water source from debris while an inlet pipe below the ground funnels fresh water into an 80 cubic meter tank holding 80,000L of water. Before the water enters the tank, a chlorine disinfection system will ensure that the water is purified from bacteria and contaminants. From the tank, pipes and gravity will allow clean drinking water to flow downwards to the homes of 200 families throughout the village, covering an area of 20 square kilometres.
The process is led by local staff from El Quiché province, all of whom grew up in homes and communities without water. At some point in the past decades, their communities received the support to construct a water system, and they have since dedicated their lives and experience in helping other communities.
They have become experts, designing and implementing over 280 community water system projects over the past 25 years. All of these systems are still functioning, providing abundant supplies of clean water to these communities. These staff are also extraordinarily humble, with a deep care for families and a commitment to journeying with them. The staff will work closely with the families in Chixocol, providing technical expertise and training for health, hygiene, health rights, community project management, and other important themes.
HOPE International Development Agency exists to improve the supply of basic human necessities for the most in need communities of the developing world. This is done through self-help activities that put the development of a community into the hands of its members. HOPE believes that everyone has the capacity to change their circumstances, but like most things, it is never done alone. HOPE strives to challenge, educate, and involve Canadians in development issues, encouraging them to consider their role in ensuring dignity for communities around the world.
Every year HOPE donors support between 50 to 65 initiatives in as many as 20 countries worldwide, many of which give people access to reliable supplies of clean water right in their communities. To learn more, visit www.hope-international.com.