Los Perez School Latrine Project – Guatemala

Caserio Los Perez, Aldea Patzac, Santa Apolonia, Chimaltenango, Guatemala

 Community Description
The high rural Guatemalan community of Los Perez only recently acquired the formal status of caserio (village). The community is located at 2,500 meters of elevation (approx. 8,100 feet), and is home to 20 families, who are all mostly interrelated.

Most adults have a respectable command of basic conversational Spanish, but all speak Kaq’chi’quel as their daily language. A typical recent social pattern here has been that young people looking for their own farmland have moved uphill out of the more easily farmed but thoroughly occupied valleys.

This means that they farm on VERY steep fields, which is arduous, less productive (yield-per-acre,) and more than a little dangerous in rainy season, due to the prevalent geological tendency for landslides that take away recently cleared farmland.

About three years ago, Los Perez achieved recognition as a formal political presence when it received approval to create its own school. The new school saves community children from a daily round trip hike to their previous school of about 8 hilly kilometers, but it also provides this young town with a community center, a place for a new community to focus its pride.

Most school children complete at least fourth grade, with many graduating from primary school in the sixth grade, and some few continuing on to middle school in the municipio.

Last year, the mayor and municipality provided for construction of a new block classroom with lamina roof and concrete floor, a development project that was sought and supported by community leaders, with labor provided willingly by the whole community.

The school is located on a steep hillside, and the latrine pit is excavated into an area of landfill. This is commonly understood here to be a dangerous method for waste disposal, because liquid waste is continually added to an area of less stable terrain.

Already there exists the hazard of landslides during the rainy season. In 2010 a family of 9 in an adjacent community was killed in such a natural disaster. A different school in this municipality built such a latrine in similar terrain 4 years ago, and the pit collapsed after 2 rainy seasons.

Project Description
This project is to replace an inadequate and unsafe 3-seat pit latrine with 3 flush toilets.

The project will be implemented the direction of the Junto Escolar of Los Perez (equivalent of an American PTA) and the Los Perez COCODE (community development officials ).

The septic system to receive the waste from these toilets is already half built, consisting of a 5-meter deep drainage pit built to handle the greywater runoff from the handwashing station. Another pit will be dug beside it and connected with two concrete tubes at the bottom and an egress near the surface.

Demonstrating their foresight, the community has already acquired and installed 3″ drainage tubing to handle fecal waste (instead of the cheaper 2″ tubing sufficient for greywater) in anticipation of this upgrade.

There is an adequate water supply for flush toilets, even during the dry season. A small rooftop water storage tank will be installed to feed the toilets during the day and to fill up during the off-peak hours of water usage in the community.

Project funds will pay for all required materials and appliances, including concrete and rebar to build a safety cover, a concrete collar for the new septic pit, and all the necessary connecting tubing. Also included will be a small shipping charge to have cement and toilets delivered to the community.

All labor will be provided by members of the community, who will also provide needed sand and gravel.

Project Impact
100 residents of Los Perez will benefit from the project, including the 33 students and 2 teachers at the school.

Peace Corps Volunteer Directing Project
Dercum Over

The flush toilet system will serve to remove the dangerous condition of the improperly built latrines. Drainage tubes will carry away all of the watery waste to a septic pit 20 meters downhill, thereby eliminating the landslide potential.

Dollar Amount of Project

Donations Collected to Date


Donations of any amount will be appreciated. The full amount will give you “naming rights”, if that is something you would like.

Any contributions in excess of the Dollar Amount of Project will be allocated to other projects directed by this PCV and/or projects of other PCVs in this country.

Dollar Amount Needed
$0.00 – This project now has been fully funded through the generosity of The Soneva SLOW LIFE Trust as a part of their Clean Water Projects initiative.

We encourage others to continue to donate using the Donate button below, and we will notify Peace Corps Volunteer Dercum Over of your donation. Additional funds will be used to fund the next project by Dercum and/or those of other PCVs in the country of service.

This project has been finished. To read about the conclusion of the project, CLICK HERE.