Miguel and Ana of Xepiun, Guatemala

Submitted by Jodi and Tristan Moss | Location: Guatemala | NGO: Aqua Para La Salud | Date: April, 2010

When Ana Rivera was a girl in the Guatemalan village of Vijohom II, she would walk several kilometers each day to collect water for her family. Sometimes, this spring would run dry and she would walk further to another spring. When she was 22, Ana married into one of the few fortunate families in the area with a spring running on their property.

Ana appreciates that having a spring on her property is a luxury. For example, she had to wash clothes six times per week when she was raising her 12 children. She was able to wash the clothes at her house whenever she had spare time rather than carry the heavy laundry to the local spring and back. It was easy for Ana to fill her jug with spring water whenever she needed it for cooking, cleaning or washing.

Even though many Guatemalan villages have a basic water distribution system, these systems are expensive, unreliable, and often insufficient. Water frequently runs out during the dry season, leaving families to seek water from nearby springs, neighboring villages, or even puddles.

Ana’s family has been approached by the local village water committee about selling the access rights to their spring, but they are reluctant to sell. Their spring’s flow rate has slowly been deteriorating due to a drying climate. Ana worries that her and her family (who live nearby and share the spring) will not have enough water if they sell the spring and use the village water system instead. According Ana, you cannot put a price on water.

Ana Rivera grew up in the village of Vijolom II in the Guatemalan highlands. When she was 22, she married Miguel Bernal and moved to a neighbouring village, Xepiun. Miguel and Ana have raised eight sons and four daughters. Their children have left home and most still live in Xepiun.

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