GU-G1009 : Pilot Water and Sanitation Program in Scattered Rural Communities in Guatemala
Project Status: Implementation
The objective of this pilot program is to design and implement intervention models to provide water and sanitation services in hard-to-reach rural communities in the municipality of Santa Lucia Utatlán, including both collective and individual solutions. The project will be able to be replicated in other parts of the country and will facilitate the development of national public policy guidelines. Guatemala, with a population of 17.7 million inhabitants in 2019, presents a national coverage of drinking water and sanitation services below the Latin American average. The coverage of the drinking water service in Guatemala amounts to 87.32% of the population (95.04% for urban areas, and 79.38% for rural areas). Similarly, only 61% of the population (65.61% urban and 57.78% rural) has access to a continuous service (24/7). Regarding the quality of the supplied water, only 55.9% of the population has access to a safe drinking water service (65.61% urban and 46.11% rural); 38% of the population has a basic drinking water service (32.31% urban and 44.25% rural). Almost a million people -mainly located in rural areas- are drinking water from unsafe sources, with a third of them drinking directly from surface waters. Regarding sanitation services, at a national level only 65.06% of the population has access to basic sanitation service (79% urban and 50.51% rural); 11.67% has limited service (12.17% urban and 11.17% rural); 18.58% (more than 3 million inhabitants) has access to unsafe services (7.6% urban and 29.86% rural); and 4.6% of the population practices open air defecation, the majority being located in rural areas, and especially in indigenous areas. Only 4% of the wastewater that is collected by the system is treated. The rest of the wastewater is discharged, not treated or poorly treated, to streams, rivers, and lakes, causing environmental contamination in at least 95% of water bodies of the country. The situation of water and sanitation services -in terms of coverage, quality of service and type of infrastructure- is more critical in rural and indigenous areas. It should be noted that the information collected for the rural areas in the country generally refers to concentrated rural communities, with populations between 500 to 2,500 inhabitants. These communities have access to public services and communication facilities located in the urban centers of their territories, and the Guatemalan government has developed initiatives to provide them with drinking water and sanitation services, through the Municipal Development Institute (INFOM) and other institutions. With regard to rural communities with difficult access, the country does not have a clear definition of their concept in terms of population and other required criteria, nor specific sector data on the situation of public services; however, several studies carried out at the Latin American level indicate that the levels of coverage and quality of service (availability, accessibility and quality) are lower than those in concentrated rural communities.