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Rainbow Guatemala in the Coban landfill

The Rainbow Guatemala project covers two areas of intervention, the first is the reacquisition of sanitary conditions for the inhabitants of the municipal landfill of Coban and the surrounding slums "Barrio El Esfuerzo 1 and 2" where 3000 families live in absolutely precarious conditions; the second area of intervention concerns the informal education - in the school of the "Escuelita Feliz" landfill - of the nearly 100 child workers at the landfill, to whom families do not grant the privilege of going to school because of the daily "income" they generate (0.7 $ cents).

General objective

Improving the environmental and sanitary conditions of the landfill population and the Barrio. Improve the psychosocial well-being of children and families living and working in landfills. Create eco-compatible and eco-sustainable infrastructures with the earth sack technique. Promote quality of life (QOL) by providing health, hygiene and nutrition education training. Providing psychosocial assistance. RAINBOW GUATEMALA

Specific Objectives

Financing the construction of houses with the eco-sustainable and anti-earthquake-anti-flood technique of the bags of earth (, already used for the construction of buildings for orphans in the “Rainbow Belize” project.

Involve the population of the landfill and the Barrio El Esfuerzo 1 in the construction, educating and raising awareness of the new technique to replace the current houses (shacks).

Educate in the management of catastrophic events (unfortunately frequent in the area).

Support the educational-rehabilitation activities of Escuelita Feliz and encourage health care. To finance a part-time educational and social assistance service for children working in the landfill.

Expected results

Adequate levels of psychosocial well-being for the beneficiaries involved in the program, thanks to direct involvement in construction, training, awareness raising activities. Promotion of Human Development through the activation of social and educational dynamics Direct participation of the beneficiaries in the processes. Create a virtuous model of development, replicable and repeatable in similar intervention contexts.

Needs Analysis

Sustainable Architecture Area - Disaster Prevention

construction of 30 flood - proof houses in the landfill area and Colonia Nuova Esperanza

direct involvement of families in the activities

awareness raising, Education: training sessions for local Human Resources on construction techniques and methods

Education - Psychosocial Area: Escuelita Feliz

Education and skills development of working children

Reactivation of the canteen service and psychosocial support service

Purchase of educational-recreational materials and basic furniture

Renovation of architectural areas, subject to high wear due to the environmental conditions of the landfill

Project actors

Maria Caterina Vetro, Psychologist (03/7428 Lombardy Region)

SPONSOR: Pino Scotto, On the Road, Real Vision Production, Birrificio Hibu, EMP, A + S Architettura & Urbanistica

Local counterpart: Comunidad Esperanza, The Comunidad Esperanza Project was born eight years ago as a way to alleviate and rebel against extreme poverty.In addition to the problems of the landfill, it became aware of having to act even beyond the basis of misery, intervening at the highest level, that of the slum surrounding, the "Barrio El Esfuerzo". Comunidad Esperanza has been working for years in the following areas: nutrition, education, health care, psychological, legal, human and spiritual formation.

Need Analysis

There are currently 19 families living directly in municipal waste. Families settled there from marginal areas of the Colonia Nueva Esperanza (slum or barrio) because they were without accommodation.

In the Colonia Nueva Esperanza area, according to talks with the President of the Development Community of the Council (local government), Mr. Santos Raymundo, it was possible to find that 1500 families are homeless, of which 15 live in situations of extreme poverty . The amount of land occupied by the Nueva Esperanza is equal to 30,000 lots.

The families, made up of an average of 5 members each, live and work in landfills, dedicating their time to the selection and resale of waste. Adults and children aged 3 and over dig through organic, inorganic and toxic waste for a dollar a day (children about $ 0.7 a day), in dramatic hygienic-sanitary conditions.

The reasons that led to migration to landfills lie not only in the highest unemployment rate in the country, but also in a progressive loss of human dignity, for which these people have gradually perceived themselves as valid only for "living and digging among the waste". Unfortunately, children who grow up in landfills consider this lifestyle of the elderly to be normal and acceptable.

L'Escuelita Feliz, the landfill school, is located in the Coban landfill: as it was baptized by the landfill workers themselves - it has a high symbolic value within the life of the "Comunidad Esperanza". 'Escuelita Feliz an average of 25 child-students participated, a number that sometimes increases for children whose families live in the landfill or in the Colonia Esfuerzo, who are lucky enough to attend public school (free in Guatemala) but not they have the privilege of being able to eat 3 times a day. Attendance is encouraged, hindered by the parents themselves due to the "income" generated by children working in landfills (0.7 - 1US $ per day).

Local context

Guatemala is the second poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNDP, 2010): more than 59% of children and adolescents live below the poverty line and 19.2% in extreme poverty. In the indigenous population of rural areas, the percentage increases to 72%. Guatemala reports the highest percentage of chronic malnutrition in Latin America, and the fourth highest in the world. Four out of 10 children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition, eight out of ten among the indigenous. (USAID, 2010). This irreversibly affects intellectual performance. Guatemala has the lowest number of school years in Latin America and the Caribbean (4.1): only 4 out of 10 children finish school, indigenous girls go to school for only 3 years on average.

Violence and impunity seriously affect minors, direct and indirect victims: every month there are 46 gunshot killings. Between 2008 and 2009 there were 53,764 crimes, including murders, abuses, disappearances, kidnappings, corruption and engagements in the criminal system. In Guatemala, the criminal system controls 45% of the country, with 90% of crimes unpunished. About 15,000 minors are reported to be victims of sexual exploitation and child trafficking: (CICIG, 2010). The severe economic crisis and the effects of global climate change are seriously threatening the livelihoods of indigenous families.

About 3 million Guatemalans do not have access to clean water, and 6 million do not have access to sanitation.

Guatemala is among the 10 most vulnerable countries to natural disasters in the world. Hurricane season affects nearly one million people (7% of the total population) every year, with a loss of $ 1.5 billion (4.1% of GDP).

Technical Project Data







Project start




Project status


Project manager


Project Cost

€ 30,000


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