Conclusion of Los Perez School Latrine Project – Guatemala

This project has been completed under the direction of Peace Corps Volunteer Dercum Over.

To read about the beginning of the project, CLICK HERE.

The project was to build a bathroom with 3 flush toilets.

Dercum reports:

The community of Los Perez has successfully completed the project of replacing the dangerous latrines in their elementary school with flushing toilets and plumbing that carry away the waste and waste water to be absorbed in a new septic system in a safe area. We also completed the upgrade to the existing grey -water system of drainage, successfully converting it into this new septic system.

 Due to a recent commitment by the mayor and town council of Santa Apolonia, this project underwent a revision during construction. The original plan called for a rooftop water

 deposit tank to feed standard flush toilets with attached storage tanks. This design is more expensive, but we deemed it necessary because although this community has had a constant supply of good potable water, it has never been provided with an excessive volume. We included water storage at the school in the original system design so that it would be able to fill up during the overnight low-demand period for use the next day, a common design feature here to cope with this water-scarcity issue.

In February, acting on an independent community solicitation for development aid, our mayor bought permanent water rights above the town of Los Perez to provide a better water resource for this growing young community. The new plan for water in this community now includes a generous water source, 4 kilometers of tubing and a large holding-and-distribution tank 200 meters uphill from the school. As a result of this new water resource, we felt that investing in separate water storage at the school was redundant, and we decided to install toilets that are flushed by pouring water directly into them.

Because we avoided buying both the rooftop tank and the three toilet tanks, we saved a total of Q1,297 (approx. $165 US) to apply toward the new project of building the large holding tank. The resultant savings have been allocated to purchase all the cement needed to build the new storage tank.

This design change is also better for maintenance reasons. In my 2 years working in rural Guatemala schools, I have observed that the mechanisms in the back tanks of regular flush toilets do not stand up to normal usage for very long. When they do break down, there is no money budgeted to provide new parts or to pay a handyman to accomplish the simple repair. The reality is that most of these toilets end up being flushed with a bucket anyway. The community parents’ committee agreed with this observation, so we decided to apply the money toward the next phase of the project.

Thank you for your continuing faith in the rural communities of our world, and also in the Peace Corps volunteers who are trying to serve with them.


We wish to thank Dercum for completing this project, and again extend our gratitude to The Soneva SLOW LIFE Trust for providing the funding.