Over the past four months, EcoLogic in partnership with Mayan Association for Well-Being in the Sarstún Region (APROSARSTUN) has successfully advanced our project, Promoting Sustainable Livelihoods in Guatemala in Sarstún, Guatemala.
EcoLogic’s agroforestry project increased the production of both staple crops and cash crops. Since our last report, EcoLogic facilitated five workshops for thirty local farmers, training them to establish alley-cropping plots that result in more sustainable ways of managing the fertility of the soil. Alley cropping is a technique that restores nitrogen to the top layer of soil so that farmers can use the same piece of land every year, and it is done by planting nitrogen-fixing trees like the Inga tree between each row of crops. Additionally, three communities in the region are experimenting with ‘fruiticulture’ plots by establishing 0.3 acres of land growing mainly avocados, oranges, and mandarins.
We continue to provide capacity-building and leadership opportunities for women in 16 communities by organizing community demonstrations of various fuel-efficient stove models. The women choose the model for their community and are aided in the installation of the stoves. This year EcoLogic has built 25 fuel-efficient stoves and plans to building another 75 by the end of the year. The women who are selected to receive stoves, participate in their construction and learn how to operate, fix, and maintain them.
Our project technician in Guatemala, José Domingo Caal, noted the overwhelmingly positive reception of the stoves among the women. The stoves require far less fuel wood, reducing the number of trees that are felled in nearby forests. As a result, women (and girls) can spend less time gathering wood and have more time to earn supplemental income or attend school. In addition, the stoves are vented to the outside decreasing the smoke inside the home, which reduces health risks to family members.
Promoting more sustainable livelihood practices is integral to our stove projects.In return for receiving a stove, all families need to plant and maintain seedlings in community nurseries or participate in the reforestation of mature saplings. As a result, EcoLogic and APROSARSTUN also have facilitated the reforestation of approximately 22 acres of degraded forest areas around microwatersheds, which supply the water that communities rely upon for drinking water.
Together, in partnership with you, the communities, and APROSARSTUN, we are moving forward with building capacity for sustainability and food security in rural Q’eqchi communities (Q’eqchi being the predominant Maya group in the central highlands and northern lowlands of Guatemala) by addressing the interrelated economic, social, and environmental issues. Ultimately, our partnership and activities in Guatemala lead to the conservation of all of our shared natural resources.
On behalf of EcoLogic and the communities we serve, we ask you to continue to support the people of Sarstún in their efforts to create sustainable livelihoods.