Guatemala: Reducing vulnerabilities by increasing access to water and green energy for productive uses

Stage: Early stage

Reducing vulnerabilities by increasing access to water and green energy for productive uses

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The problem addressed

Food security in rural communities is at risk because of lack of water during the dry season (Nov-April) in the department of San Marcos, Guatemala. Vegetable consumption during the dry season drops 20%. In this regard, the aim is to use low-cost green technologies that will allow families to have access to water all year round and thus increase crop production and improve health.

The intervention

Green energy through innovative mechanisms is currently being applied to increase water access for productive use through 4 projects, which are carried out within the Learning Centers for Rural Development (CADERs) in the communities of San Marcos.

CADER Sibinal Center: A system for reusing water from trout tanks with a water hammer pump forces the water 20m up to fill a 20.000 liter tank. This water is used for irrigation of crops in a vegetable greenhouse. 

CADER Santa María, Tacaná: By using solar energy, water is pumped 45m up from natural water sources to a 20.000 liter tank for drip watering of flowers and vegetables in greenhouses.

CADER Flor de Mayo, Tacaná and San Pedrito, San José Ojetenam: Mist harvesting, aimed at channeling water to 20.000 liter tanks to be used for consumption, and towards greenhouses for crop production. Two types of mist-capturing panels are currently being tested. 

The partners

UNDP worked with FAO, the Ministry for Agriculture, Livestock and Food –MAGA-, Local Government and community voluntary family trainers to construct the innovative systems in the learning centers that are led by the family trainers. Testing and training was done with the participation of community leaders, families and local government.


Each of the four CADER Learning Centers are led by family-members (voluntary agricultural trainers) that receive technical assistance and training from MAGA staff, and transfer this knowledge to a group of 20 to 30 families that live in the neighborhood. In Santa María Tacaná 9 families, and in Sibinal 19 families, cooperate in the flower, trout and vegetable production to increase their family income. The CADERs are visited by MAGA (central) staff, local government, and community leaders, for training and replication in other rural communities that lack water.

The water-hammer and the solar-energy projects have proven to function well, lifting sufficient water to the needed heights and filling the 20,000 liter water tanks in two (hammer) to three (solar) days.

The Mist Harvesting projects generate an average of 60 liters of water per day, sufficient for watering crops. The families that attend these CADERs have indicated that these methods allow the production of crops and flowers to continue during dry season, providing sufficient food for the family diet and even sell excess on the local market.

Result of increase in water access, the flower greenhouse in Santa María, Tacaná, will produce up to 6 dozens of flowers weekly, at sells price of Q18 ($2.40) per dozen, approx. $750 per year. As for the crops, the production increase will be of 2,000 crops (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc) per season, when sold at the local market at Q3 ($0.40) per crop, this will increase the income with $1,600 per year in each CADER.  The tomato production in the greenhouse of Sibinal will add another $1,120 to the annual production income.

Lessons identified

Creativity and Innovation are motors for responsible and sustainable development.

Family´s and community´s participation in the design of solutions to their problems and challenges guarantee empowerment, appropriation and sustainability.

Listen well to people, understand the environment and together create ‘living’ plans that are flexible and responsive to the needs of the local community.

Contact person

Julio Martinez: 

Related materials

Article: Innovando con tecnologías alternativas para mejorar la producción familiar agrícola mediante el acceso a agua y energía verde

Photos: Programa Conjunto de Reducción de Vulnerabilidades Coatán/Suchiate


$40,000 USD

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