COMMITMENT FOR LIFE – STORIES FOR CHANGE JUNE 2017
Despite the difficult context existing across Central America, Christian Aid country staff are working closely with partners to build appropriate opportunities. For example, in Guatemala, partner Colectivo Madre Selva, is supporting an initiative to build small hydroelectric plants to help excluded indigenous communities to access energy. The project is aligned with the principles of the Big Shift Campaign and the use of low carbon energy.
Another example of responding to the challenges of climate change can be seen through Christian Aid’s partner Soppexcca in Nicaragua. Soppexcca is currently working to diversify agricultural production through the introduction of cocoa. The project is allowing small farmers to build better resilience against the challenges of climate change, through the transition from coffee production to cocoa production.
In Guatemala, Colectivo Madre Selva are working on a hydroelectric power and climate change monitoring project. Partners, Betania and Congcoop have started a climate change monitoring project looking at the impact of climate change on livelihoods
Colectivo Madre Selva, Guatemala
Just three months ago the arrival of electricity in La Taña was a cause for a 4-day fiesta. Music, dance and Mayan ceremonies were the main highlights of the celebration. Electric power came to La Taña when Colectivo Madre Selva and a group of church organisations, including Christian Aid, installed a small community-owned hydroelectric power plant that benefits over fifteen hundred Maya-Kekchi men and women.
The energy autonomy programme proposes an alternative model to populations that have been historically left out by the state and its development policy, which is based on extractive industries oriented to energy exports. In addition to producing environmentally-friendly electric power with renewable resources, the project is intended for communities to decide on and responsibly manage their own resources and to do it sustainably in the medium and long term. La Taña’s 300 families have access to water and lighting at a reasonable cost of US$4 per household. Payments made by community residents are saved to cover the small electric system maintenance costs and the salaries of four local electricians in charge of technical service for the energy generating equipment.
The community turbine, as they call it, generates electric power for all. It uses some 125 litres of water per second taken from a river headwaters. Building the community-owned hydroelectric power plant and installing electric power in the community has resulted in the unthinkable— providing the community with a four-computer internet service.
Alvaro Hernández, a 45-year-old merchant, went to Uspantán to buy his first freezer ever, and the first one in town. There is an evident novelty in the community: dozens of children eating home-made ice cream. It is the first time La Taña children have eaten ice cream. The power has also enabled the community health clinic to have better equipment such as the use of ultra-sound, and fridges for storing medicines.