As mentioned before, the idea of water collection systems is one of the 3 key strategies we are focusing on here with CODECH in Guatemala. After conducting many interviews with co-op leaders, and now focus groups and community asset mapping with co-op members, the importance of water continues to be highlighted, not only for coffee production, but also livelihood.
Luckily, in the region where we are in, it usually rains plenty during the wet season, and there is also a water source piped in from a water deposit from the mountains. But some more remote regions aren’t as lucky, as water availability is often intermittent and unpredictable, especially with climate change affects taking place. Even in Concepcion Huista, where it rained nearly every day for the first 3 weeks we were here, has seen an unusual dry spell with the past week being completely free of rain.
For small scale coffee farmers, depending on constant rain to irrigate their crops can be a risky affair. Water is especially scarce during the dry season where most of the coffee washing and processing takes place. Balance these needs along with personal water usage, and no wonder a supply of reliable water throughout the year is stressed.
As we explore how a water collection system could work on an individual or association level, what hasn’t worked, and what resources are needed to implement a viable collection system, we were fortunate one day to visit one co-op member’s parcel of land and water collection method. Martin and his father built this ingenious water collection system after learning of the technique in Mexico and buying the materials (the large plastic tarps can only be bought by the border near Mexico). The 2 meter-deep concrete tank collects water that the tin roof funnels. This fresher water is used for personal use. For other agricultural uses, there are 2 more tanks more downhill that connect and collect more sedentary water from the first tank. With this method, Martin is able to collect the natural resources when available, while ensuring future supply for himself or his crops when the weather is dryer. Could this method be implementable on a larger scale or multiplied?