Guatemala Hurricanes Eta and Iota Relief

November 2020 – July 2022

All Hands and Hearts (AHAH) has completed two programs in Guatemala, providing much needed relief after Hurricanes Eta and Iota hit in 2020. Our first program built and repaired structures in Sesajal and Seraxqen while our second program focused on the improvement of WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) systems at six schools in the Chisec area.

Our Work

AHAH’s first program in Guatemala addressed the early-recovery needs of communities impacted by Hurricanes Eta and Iota by restoring community infrastructure. Initially focussing in Sesajal on a community center with a kitchen, open air space, and latrines. In an area where women and children often had to walk up to two hours each way to collect unclean water, these new water collection and storage systems are a life-changing development that will impact health, safety, livelihoods and futures for generations to come.

In October 2020, the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) reported there were 10,000 schools without proper access to sanitation or potable water. In particular, Alta Verapaz presents the highest number of schools in need of adequate WaSH facilities: a total of 1,633 schools. Our second recovery program in Guatemala started in January 2022 and focused on constructing vital WASH infrastructure across the six most vulnerable schools in Chisec.

We completed the final school in July 2022, bringing our total impact to installing WaSH at Las Ruinas, Monja Blanca, El Paraiso, Nuevo Eden, Santa Rosa and El Manantial. Each module included safe, appropriate toilets or latrines for girls and boys, handwashing stations, rainwater harvesting, water filtration and community centered trainings.

Disaster Profile

Hurricane Eta swept through Guatemala on November 6, 2020. At its peak, Eta distributed 600 mm of rainfall and wind speeds as high as 235 km/hr causing significant impacts throughout Central America. Just two weeks later, Category 4 Hurricane Iota, devastated the same regions that had just been impacted by Eta.

In the Alta Verapaz region of Guatemala, 83% of the population lives in poverty. These communities are vulnerable to a lack of access to basic services, food, clean water, and livelihoods; problems exacerbated by hazards of cyclical drought and flooding. These existing hardships have been inflamed by Hurricanes Eta and Iota and compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Partnership Spotlight: PERIOD.

PERIOD. is a global youth-powered nonprofit that strives to eradicate period poverty and stigma through service, education and advocacy. PERIOD. aims to center those disproportionately affected by period poverty and support local efforts for menstrual equity. In 2019, UNICEF reported that in Latin America, 43% of students who have their menstrual period prefer not to attend school on those days, making menstruation one of the leading causes of school absenteeism.

PERIOD.’s chapter in Guatemala provided menstrual hygiene training for the teachers, parents and older students of the six schools AHAH worked on and the broader community. The first stage involved surveying with individuals to understand their current knowledge base around menstrual hygiene and, crucially, if they are interested in knowing more about the topic. Thirteen of the fifteen individuals interviewed consider it essential to learn more about the issue and would like AHAH and PERIOD. to support their communities with menstrual hygiene training. The survey also highlighted the entrenched social stigmas that menstruation is seen as ‘shameful’ and menstrual blood as ‘dirty’. By raising awareness about menstrual hygiene, we can improve not only girls’ education but girls’ future.

Partnership Spotlight: Community Voices

“My name is Ernesto Tiul Coc; I have four positions in this community and region of Sesajal, including being the leader of the Community Development Council and President of the Local Government Unit. Everything that has happened in the two hurricanes last year, it affected us a lot because we have never experienced something like that, so we did not know what to do and how to react to hurricanes. Now we are learning how to protect the lives of the people in our community. And thanks to the All Hands and Hearts organization, a community center is being built that will serve as a shelter if a flood should happen again. As we have already experienced, the community center will also serve for us to receive training.

Thanks for all the support! Sesajal now looks more beautiful, we are very happy and thanks to all the people from different parts of the world who are working here for us” – Ernesto Tiul, local community leader.

Volunteer Days
Lives Impacted
Families Given Access to Water

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