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Indigenous Communities Head Towards Energy Self-Sufficiency in Guatemala

USPANTÁN, Guatemala, Jul 3 2019 (IPS) - Because the government has never provided them with electricity, indigenous communities in the mountains of northwest Guatemala had no choice but to generate their own energy.

Now electricity lights up their nights and, most importantly, fuels small businesses that provide extra income to some of the 1,000 families who benefit from the community energy projects.

These community projects have been implemented in four indigenous villages located in the Zona Reina eco-region, in Uspantán municipality in the northwestern department of Quiché.

The miracle of having light initially occurred more than 10 years ago in 31 de Mayo, a Maya indigenous village.



Thanks to financial cooperation from organisations in Spain and Norway, the hard work of the community and support from the environmental group MadreSelva, the first mini-hydroelectric plant began to operate there, harnessing the waters of the Putul River.

Given the success of the first community hydropower plant, other villages also decided to generate their own electric power: El Lirio, in May 2015; La Taña, in September 2016; and La Gloria, in November 2017.

And these four villages share their electricity with five neighbouring communities.

Life has changed today in these villages, local resident Zaiada Gamarro told IPS. She stressed the importance of electricity for women, who can now cook and perform other household tasks at night, for children, who can now do their homework after dark, and for businesses like small bakeries or shops that can now sell refrigerated products.

A similar plan is under way to build mini-dams in eight other indigenous villages in the neighbouring region of Los Copones. They will also share their electricity with 11 communities in the surrounding area, in a project for which the German development aid agency has contributed 1.25 million dollars.

For further information, read the IPS article: Against All Odds, Indigenous Villages Generate Their Own Energy in Guatemala.


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