Environmental projects and practices are happening in Guatemala—little by little. Last summer I witnessed a reforestation project on the shores of Lake Atitlan near the village of San Juan La Laguna. A large quantity of tree seedlings arrived in the village early one morning and soon schoolchildren from a local school each gathered up a few of the seedlings and were on the way to the hillsides. Their school and the village had initiated a reforestation project to replant the areas that were devastated in 2005 by Hurricane Stan. See a previous post about the hurricane. The children were excited– probably just to be out of school—but it would be a valuable lesson to the children.
Many if not most people in this area cook with wood and deforestation is a big problem so it is wonderful to see the teaching of environmental practices.
The Guatemalan Stove Project is helping to combat deforestation and reduce the amount of toxic smoke in the homes by building efficient masonry cooking stoves which routes the smoke thru a stovepipe out of the house.
From the Guatemala Stove Project website “the GSP has expanded rapidly, building 25 stoves in 2000, 195 in 2001, 535 in 2002. In the spring of 2003 the thousandth stove was built and now we have built over 3000 stoves. Just think, each morning three thousand families firing up their stoves, three thousand women not risking blindness while cooking for their families; 18 thousand men women and children not filling their lungs with toxic smoke every day. Because the stoves burn more efficiently villagers use only half as many trees for fire wood in an area that is already suffering from deforestation.”
Asthma and breathing problems are nearly epidemic in the highlands because of the cooking fires —-the Guatemala Stove Project addresses the problems with the installation of these stoves. I have seen these masonry stoves in use and have seen the tremendous difference that it makes to families and the environment.
These two examples are just the beginning of the awareness of environmental problems in Guatemala as the people learn alternatives of everyday living just as we do here in the States.