School Latrines

Sanitation/Hygiene Project: 

The Syracuse Chapter has been partnering with the community of Las Majadas in the highlands of rural Guatemala since 2014. We have been working with the community, NGO Primeros Pasos, and the new Guatemala In-Country Office of EWB-USA to prioritize community needs and help the community meet these needs through our volunteering efforts. Our first project with the community was the planning and design of ventilated-improved-pit (VIP) latrines and handwashing station for their primary school of 400 students and faculty. Previous latrine facilities for the school were near full and location/design had been a challenge.

(Photo above is Mark with community members)

Throughout 2014 and 2015, we worked with the community to collect data and locate the new latrines. In 2016 we began and completed implementation! (see photos for Inauguration). We are continuing to evaluate the system for sustainability to ensure project success. Many thanks to Steve Crowe of the In-Country Office for his direction and finalization of the construction, all community members involved in construction for their assistance and hard work, as well as Kelsey Welsch, Jeanny Rios and many others for their support.

(Photo above is Steve (right) at the Latrine Inauguration in Jan 2017)

Please see the project background info below. Our second project with the same community is a clean and reliable water supply system. Please see this project tab for more info!

Project Background:

We visited the region and six schools in the Palajunoj Valley in October 2013, and we returned from a second trip in May 2014. The purpose of the second trip was to finalize the Project Partnership Agreement with the community and to collect the remaining technical information needed to move on to the design phase.  The travelers took measurements to map the layout of the school and photographs to document site conditions.  Specific technical tasks completed included further inventorying of the school’s infrastructure, characterizing soil, conducting soil percolation tests, projecting latrine usage, investigating local building regulations, documenting specific materials costs, and mapping out alternative routes for site material delivery. We also compared various alternatives such as ventilated pit latrines, composting latrines, pour flush toilets or a hybrid of the ventilated pit latrine and composting latrine. A hybrid composting/ventilated-improved-pit (VIP) design was chosen and in 2016 we traveled for implementation.

The old latrines at the Las Majadas primary school had been constructed in a piecemeal fashion, with latrines added when previous ones failed. The school had difficulty providing an adequate number of latrines and handwashing stations for its students on a small footprint of land. Maintenance has also been a major barrier, as the unimproved pit latrines provided no ability for reuse. The new latrines will allow the community to have a sustainable system far into the future.

Engineers Without Borders Syracuse Professionals Chapter