Forests, water and healthy soils are the basis for the survival of the 22,000 indigenous people in the Yatza Valley, in western Guatemala. They live off subsistence agriculture. Their forests protect them from natural events and regulate the water cycle. Their fields provide them with food.These bases of survival are at risk due to over- exploitation and climatic changes: short, heavy rainy seasons are followed by longer and more intensive periods of drought in which water is scarce. With this project, Vivamos Mejor is helping the inhabitants of the upper reaches of the Yatza water catchment area to preserve their forests, waters and soils for the next generation and the valley’s 22,000 water consumers.
- The authorities in the Yatza estuary have technical knowledge of the water situation and the central storage areas.
- The water catchment committee is organisationally strengthened and can implement the water area plan.
- 800 hectares of forest are protected and 63 hectares of degraded deforested area have been reforested.
- 30 ha of degenerated agricultural land has been converted to sustainable organic farming.
Awareness-raising and decision basis
135 community and village representatives on the upper reaches of the Yatza Valley are sensitized to the water cycle and the effects of climate change. Together with them, Vivamos Mejor’s partner has already drawn up a watershed management plan. In a next step, an experienced geologist will supplement this plan with clear maps of the most important water resources. Vivamos Mejor presents these to the authorities in the valley and supports them in protecting strategic areas. In addition, 325 residents in 8 villages are being educated with workshops on climate change, raising their awareness of the importance of the natural basis for survival.
Reforestation and efficient cooking ovens
8 village communities are being helped to use their forests more sustainably. Normally, the families cook with wood that they cut uncontrollably, but the consumption of 150 families is being reduced with efficient stoves that save 50% wood and store heat.
At community level, Vivamos Mejor is helping the authorities with seedlings and technical advice to reforest 63 hectares of forest in strategic locations and protect forests from devastating fires.
Strengthening the Watershed Committee
In the previous project (2015-2017), representatives of the municipalities and citizens of the three political municipalities founded an overarching watershed managing committee. This community of interest will now be strengthened in terms of organisation and by training its members so they can implement the developed watershed management plan.
More productive, sustainable cultivation
Because farmers produce in an unbalanced and unsustainable manner, they harvest too little. As a consequence, they clear the forest for new crops. In order to stop this process, Vivamos Mejor will support the farmers to achieve better yields. An experienced agronomist trains 60 small farmers in sustainable organic coffee cultivation, supports them with higher-yielding plants and trains 35 small farmers in bee-keeping. In addition, farmers are supported so they can sell their coffee to a Fairtrade market channel.