Molino Belén Water Project – Guatemala
This project is made possible through the partnership of WATER CHARITY and the NATIONAL PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION.
Molino Belén del Barrio San Bartolo, Sololá, Sololá, Guatemala
Sololá, in the western highlands of Guatemala, is the second poorest state, where 94% of people live on less than $3.00 per day. According to the Guatemalan government, 98% of the state of Sololá is indigenous Maya.
There are 240 families, with a total of 960 people, in the Molino Belén community.
The community has a serious water problem. While there is a water distribution system set up in the community, the original water source was from the 1970s and is no longer sufficient to support the growing community. Many families go several days without water and the community has implemented a strict water management system, turning off access to the water daily, so there is only access to water for a few hours each day. With that said, many days the water does not reach all of the families in the community, and they are in dire need of a new water source.
This project is to build an effective water system in the community. It consists of building a wall and water capture tank for a new water source, as well as providing tubing for distribution of the water to individual homes.
In July of this year, the community bought the land rights to a new water source 800 meters from their current water source. Each family had to save money for more than a year to be able to buy the land rights to the water source.
The community has already paid $9,655 for the water source (land rights), has paid to have an engineer assess the land and feasibility of the project ($205) and will provide the unskilled labor for the project ($2,760).
Wall construction details
The wall that will be built will be 14 meters wide (angled in a U shape) and 3.5 meters high. The wall will be planked by wood, filled with wire mesh with iron anchors, and finally filled with a cement, sand, and gravel mixture. This will ensure that all of the water is captured and filtered to the water capture tank.
Water capture tank/ditch construction details
The water capture tank will be built with bricks and cement and have a cement top to ensure that the water doesn’t get contaminated. The tank will have a cement, sand, and gravel foundation as well. The water tank will be 2.5 meters X 2.5 meters. The tank will be placed eight meters from the wall and connected with PVC tubing.
Ditches will also be dug on the side opposite the wall and water capture tank in order to filter the water. For this, the community will use rocks and PVC tubing for five ditches that are between eight and nine meters each.
The majority of the tubing for the water system is in place already, including most of the tubing and valves to the homes. There will be, however, tubing from the water capture tank to the main water line for the community, which covers a flat distance of 75 meters. From there, tubing is required to three new homes that were not already connected to the main water line. The total of these lines is 200 meters of tubing. (All valves are metal valves that the families are required to purchase separately
960 people will benefit from the project.
Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Directing Project
Carolyn Daly, RPCV, is In-Country Director for Mil Milagros, a local NGO that has as its mission to partner with communities to prevent malnutrition and hunger and improve the health and education of children in Guatemala. She is undertaking this project on her own, in the community where she lives.
Monitoring and Maintenance
The community already has in place a system for control and maintenance of their existing water source and plans to continue with the system. The town committee, 11 members elected for two-year terms, is charged with maintaining the system, checking water levels daily and turning off the water when necessary, and ensuring proper maintenance of the system. Each family with a community water source pays Q25 per year for their water to the town committee, and small repairs are paid through that fund.
The community has monthly work days, usually Sunday, to clean the tanks and repair tubing or valves that are not working properly, and all families with a community water source are expected to work or pay someone to work in their place. For larger repairs, the community meets in assembly and divides the cost among all water users evenly and gives a timeframe to ensure that each family has paid its quota.