Several generations of a family live in this house in El Mirador, a small village located 3000 meters above sea level in the Guatemalan highlands. El Mirador has little water during the dry summer months. Rainwater quickly soaks into the ground to feed springs that run down the mountainside. In the past, the families in El Mirador resorted to collecting water from small puddles on roads and in pastures. Water was sparse and often contaminated.
About four years ago, Agua Para La Salud, an internationally funded Guatemalan not-for-profit organization, installed two communal water stations in the village. Each of these “lavadaros” has four faucets and several clothes washing basins. The system captures water from local springs and stores it in large tanks. It provides 40-50 families with a much cleaner and more reliable water source.
Agua Para La Salud also installed rain water catchment tanks at nine houses in the village. These tanks provide a constant source of running water to the houses during the wet season. Each family was required to pay a small portion (about $15) of the building costs for their tank. The tanks collect rain water from the roof and store it in a 200 liter above-ground tank next to the house. During the dry season, the lavadaros still serve as the primary source of water.
The woman walk to the nearest lavadero several times a day to wash clothes and to fill jugs, which they carry back to their homes for washing and cooking. It takes only about five minuets to walk to the lavadero.
Agua para La Salud makes site visits to El Mirador to address maintenance issues and assess the village’s ongoing water needs in its maintenance program that is funded by the US not-for-profit organization International Rural Water Association. This program, working together with the El Mirador’s village water committee, helps ensure the long term viability of the El Mirador’s water systems.