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On nature’s side, on mankind’s side

The project "On nature’s side, on mankind’s side" is promoted by a consortium of which MAIS is part with CISV, RE.TE., MLAL, ISCOS and locally la Mancomunidad Metroli los Altos (Departments of Quetzaltenango and Totonicapan, Guatemala), supported by the Community and Development Councils. The project has a total duration of 10 months (01/02/2010 – 30/12/2011) and it is financed by the Piedmont Regional Authority, through COP (Consorzio Ong Piemontese – Piedmont Ngos Consortium). The consortium operates in the departments of Quetzaltenango and Totonicapan, particularly in nine councils of Mancomunidad Metropoli de Los Altos in order to stop pollution, to control floods and to prevent volcanic risk.
This forest region is characterized by a mountains chain, three volcanoes – one of which is still in activity – a high population density and a strong environmental degradation.


Guatemala is a country which went through an armed internal conflict that lasted 36 years and that degenerated into a real genocide between 1978 and 1983. In 1996, Guatemala started a democratic transition process, which was hindered by different reasons: strong inequality in the income distribution, being Guatemala one of the countries with the lowest welfare budgets; a high rate of illiteracy and a lack of a mass elaboration of the conflicts that have steeped the country in blood. One of the most dramatic expressions of this distress is represented by the violent behaviour against women, which is quite a diffused phenomenon but that reaches high peaks in Guatemala.

The objective is that of strengthening the local council authority and the inhabitants of nine municipalities in the management of natural resources of the territory of the Metropolis of  Los Altos, particularly concerning the residual water treatment. The project aims at improving the management of the high basin of the river Samalà, in order to stimulate eco-tourism initiatives as an alternative for the sustainability of natural resources and new local kinds of economy.

Subjects involved
The project aims at making the 380.000 inhabitants of Mancomunidad Metropoli de Los Altos responsible for the water management of the high basin, for a total of 9 municipalities (San Juan Ostuncalco, La Esperanza, San Carlos Sija, Sibilia,, Quetzaltenango, Salcajà and Zunil of the division of Quetzaltenango, Totonicapan and San Andrès Xecul of the division of Totonicapan).

The project aims at reaching three main goals:

  • the Authority of the high basin of the river Samalà to consolidate its political influence on the decisional process, in order to have the possibility to propose a strategy for the management of the territory and of the water resources for the prevention of environmental disasters
  • analysis of the residual water treatment in the nine boroughs of Mancomunidad Metropoli de Los Altos, in order to find the contaminated areas and to elaborate a proposal of re-use of wastewater through water and mud discharge streams.
  • The communities, the base organisations and small local entrepreneurs to develop eco-tourism proposals that protect the environment and strengthen local economic development.