Santa Apolonia Composting Latrines Project – Guatemala

This is a project to build composting latrines in Santa Apolonia, Chimaltenango, Guatemala. It is being carried out under the direction of Peace Corps Volunteer Ellen Ostrow.

In the municipality of Santa Apolonia, Ellen works with two rural agricultural communities, Chuaparal I—an indigenous population—and Cojulya—a primarily Ladino population. Over half of the 47 families in the two groups do not have latrines. For those that do, the latrines, which often serve for more than one family, are in poor condition and do little to aid fecal control.

Chuaparal, Guatemala

The communities are plagued by chronic diarrhea and other gastrointestinal diseases. The groups have requested a community latrine project, which will benefit a combined 300 men, women, and children.

Ellen is part of the Rural Home Preventive Health project, Peace Corps Guatemala. Volunteers are partnered with local health centers in various municipalities. Each health center reports to departmental level health centers which then report to the ministry of health.

Volunteers work with health center personnel to inform the local populace about preventive health habits and then to construct needed technology.

The water table is high in both communities, and pit latrines contaminate the groundwater. Thus, composting latrines are the best option for the families.

Composting latrines are above ground and do not contaminate the water table. The movable seat sits on top of one side of a large cement box that is separated into two compartments. One side is used at a time, throwing ash or other dry matter after each use (to aid in decomposition) until it is full. The side is then sealed with a cement top and after six months the fecal matter decomposes into compost. During this time the family is using the other side of the latrine and the cycle continues.

The nutrient-rich compost is then used in the fields to enhance the quality of the crops. Furthermore, the composting latrine has a life-span that is over four times that of a pit latrine. The women have also noted that these latrines alleviate the common fear of children falling into pit latrines.

The latrines require continual education. Therefore, several models will be constructed, two in a school shared by the communities and three in group member homes. The school models will aid in instructing the children how to use the latrines and the home models will allow for the families to share their experiences.

All members of the interested families will be required to attend several presentations on the importance of the latrines, how they function, and how to maintain them. After three months, the families will construct their latrines with the help of a mason.

The two women’s groups are currently forming a single legalized group in order to aid one another in bettering the health of their communities. The primary goals of the group are to further education regarding preventive health and to provide needed technology projects for the communities.

For this project, the elected representatives of the group will not only be helping with the implementation of the project, but also teaching community members about the importance of a latrine for family health. The experience of this project will enable the united women to continue education and create future projects.

Latrine - Guatemala

The community will provide the labor and all gravel needed for construction. The municipality will provide the funding and labor for the five models. In addition, the municipality has agreed to supply sand, transport of materials, and the mason for the family latrines.

This is a terrific project, which has brought together many entities and funding sources to get the job done. Water Charity is pleased to be able to enable the proliferation of composting latrines in these communities, leading to a great impact on their public health.

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

Any additional donations using the Donate button below will be used to fund other projects by this PCV and/or other PCVs in this country.

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