Guatemala is a country in Central America borderded by Mexico in the north and west, Belize and the Carribean to the northeast, Honduras to the east, El Salvador to the southeast and the Pacific Ocean to the south. It has an estimated population of 17.2 million and that makes it the most populous country in Central America.
For years the country suffered chronic instability and civic strife and only since 1986 democracy is restored. After Haiti it is one of the most underdeveloped areas of Latin-America on the Human Development Index of the United Nations. It continues to struggle with the effects of the long civil war, high rates of poverty and crime, drug cartels and instability. Almost 75% of the population lives below the poverty line. There is a lot of unemployment and the country faces serious challenges in its health and education sectors.
HomePlan in Guatemala
Panhux is a small community with 350 inhabitants and it's located in the in San Cristóbal Verapaz municipality, Alta Verapaz, at 255 km of Guatemala City. The community is situated in one of the most vulnerable areas of Guatemala. Alta Verapaz has 89,3 % of it's population in rural poverty conditions. The current houses are only accessible by dirt roads and are made up of 80% thatched roofs, with a total of families with dirt floors and the walls mostly of rough wood, canvas and bahareque, which makes their home inadequate, directly affecting the health of those who inhabit it. There are no sanitation services (sanitary and pluvial drainage), electricity and water, mainly exposing children under 4 to respiratory diseases (pneumonia) and acute diarrhea, which makes it representative that of the 300 annual deaths of children in rural areas. This proclaimed, the region, as the the 5th municipality with the highest severity of poverty, mostly because it has a high incidence in the infant mortality rate of the department.
The houses HomePlan and TECHO build are made of wood. Due to the lack of public infrastructure in terms of water supply, electricity and sanitation, alternative energy is included as a response through solar panels and rainwater collector, which provides permanent water for families. The house is designed to be on a concrete slab and with prefabricated treated wood panels for walls and roofing structure. Wood is a common material in the area’s vernacular architecture, so it is a very well culturally accepted material. This project also includes workshops that include family and community strenghtening. The houses are built by volunteers from TECHO, people from the community and beneficiary families of the project. It will be supervised by TECHO's housing and habitat-team that has a lot of experience in this kind of construction.