K'ASLEM YA' RAINWATER HARVESTING SYSTEMS

This project K’aslem Ya’ (Water of Life in the Kaqchikel language) seeks to address the problem of water scarcity in the hamlet of Panimaquin, Guatemala.

 

In Panimaquin, water is available through home faucets approximately one hour once every 8 to 20 days during the rainy season and just one hour once a month during the dry season. Water scarcity has been an issue in the community in recent years as over harvesting of trees for firewood and global warming has contributed to the exhaustion of the ground water supply beyond its capacity to replenish itself. Within Panimaquin there are no public water tanks or other sources of water to be used for drinking, food preparation, family hygiene needs, washing dishes and clothes, etc. The closest public water supply is an 8 kilometer walk down and uphill to and from the town of San Andres Itzapa.

 

Rain water harvesting is a good solution to the problem of water scarcity in Panimaquin as Guatemala has a long rainy season of roughly 6 to 8 months, the ground water supply is inadequate making wells and other similar solutions inadequate and people are already accustomed to harvesting rainwater in small plastic jugs.

 

The unavailability of water affects health, hygiene, food preparation as well as families’ economies. The cisterns used to hold the harvested rain water will be constructed using 950 eco-bricks (recycled plastic bottles filled with inorganic wastes). Each cistern will remove around 240 pounds of garbage from public dump sites. This use of recycled materials is important as Guatemala, like many other places in the developing world, lacks a formalized system of solid waste disposal. This means wastes are often burned or thrown in streets, uninhabited plots of land, ravines and rivers.

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