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Published on: 01/03/2012

Seven communities in Aguacatan, Guatemala, all use the same water source: El Pericon. A 17 kilometre long conduction pipe serves all seven communities with water. The system breaks down frequently because of landslides caused by over-intensive agricultural cultivation on the slopes or because people just break the pipes to drink water. The service gets interrupted frequently and this makes people unwilling to pay for it which results in empty accounts and no money to repair the breakdowns.

The caretaker complains: “It takes us a lot of time to see where the problems in the conduction line are. Hours of walking and lots of dangers climbing up and down the mountain. People don’t see that.” But the people from the Chex community reply: “When we come down from the mountain to inform those on the committee about the damages, we don’t find anybody. Most of the time we have to go back without anything having been fixed. This means that we have to walk ten kilometres to come down and ten to climb back to our community. Only the Central Committee has the tools to make repairs. So the only thing we can do is come down on the market day and look for the president or the treasurer there.”

It took heated discussion between representatives of the seven communities of Aguacatan to decide that it would be better to divide the operation and maintenance of the system. They divided the 17 kilometres conduction line into seven parts with each community being responsible for one part. The Central Committee then also distributed the padlocks of key structure as well as tools to the seven communities.

Jaime Pacajoj Cifuentes

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