Master of Environmental Studies Capstone Projects

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Presented to the Faculties of the University of Pennsylvania in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Environmental Studies 2008.


This paper will discuss poverty and quality of life indicators such as income, education, access to water, water quality, health and community participation, in relation to two community managed water projects in the rural communities of Piedad II and Colonia Belen, located in the western region of Guatemala. Both projects were part of the United Nations Development Program's Small Grants Program's Community Water Initiative. A household survey was developed and given to women project beneficiaries in the summer of 2007 in order to gather data on the above indicators. At the time of this study, the project had already been completed in Colonia Belen, but was still under construction in Piedad II. The two communities are distinct, with Colonia Belen being smaller, more isolated, significantly poorer, and its access to water is much more limited in comparison to Piedad II. Data gathered in Colonia Belen is very uniform as all households are affected by the remote location and limited natural and economic resources of the region. Despite the high project costs in Colonia Belen (US$344.47 per person, more than half the cost of the project in Piedad II of US$115.02 per person), recipients may be willing to pay more because of greater tangible and perceived benefits, such as an average of 110 minutes of time saved by each person collecting water every day, in contrast to the 55 minutes saved by those collecting water in Piedad II. Even though Colonia Belen had access to sufficient amounts of potable water as a result of the new project, they were only consuming 33 liters of water per person per day, as opposed to those living in Piedad II who were consuming 186 liters of water per person per day before the project was completed. This paper concludes with a brief analysis of the costs and benefits of each project, recommendations for each project and the Community Water Initiative program in general, and a discussion of the relationship between different indicators of poverty.



Date Posted: 07 December 2010