Kleinbauernfamilie in Guatemala

Improving livelihoods of farming families in the watershed of the Rio Quiscab

Improving livelihoods of farming families in the watershed of the Rio Quiscab



The Rio Quiscab watershed area, which encompasses the political communities of Sololá, Santa Lucía Utatlán, San José Chacayá, Nahualá, and Barreneché de Totonicapán in the Atitlán highlands, Department of Sololá, Guatemala.

Sustainable water and agriculture, conservation of natural resources, empowerment

Direct: 500 farming families and 50 community representatives
Indirectly: 110,000 other residents of the project area

Asociación Vivamos Mejor Guatemala, Panajachel, Guatemala

The project costs are CHF 689,872. Own and local contributions are not included in the total costs.

2021-2023

Project background

The majority of the indigenous rural population in the Rio Quiscab watershed area in the Sololá department survive off self-sufficient subsistence agriculture. 70% of these farming families are poor. They overexploit their natural resources, water, forest, and soil. As a result of decreasing harvest yields, many farmers burn down areas of forest, but the cleared areas only bring good yields for a few years. In addition, the erosion causes the streams to wash valuable topsoil into Lake Atitlán, which is the largest freshwater reserve in Central America and whose water quality has been impaired as a result. Furthermore, the farmers are also fighting against increasing droughts caused by climate change.

Our approach

We help smallholder families use their land in a way that conserves resources while still improving their yields. They learn sustainable yet more efficient cultivation methods, as well as beekeeping and mushroom cultivation, with which they can generate income and protect the forests. On the other hand, we also raise awareness of resource conservation among broad sections of the population and support the authorities in creating the basis for well-regulated land use planning.

Project goals

To enable farmers in the Rio Quiscab watershed area to use their natural resources sustainably.

  • To raise awareness of environmental protection and resource conservation among the population and to teach them solution strategies for the Rio Quiscab watershed area
  • For farming families to use their natural resources (agricultural land, forest, water, and pasture) sustainably
  • To enable farmer families to earn additional income through beekeeping and mushroom cultivation

Regional approach

The project is part of our regional programme, in which we work with partners in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua to implement projects related to the same issue in a way that is adapted to the context and make the expertise of all organisations mutually accessible. Our regional coordinator advises the partner organisations, pools the experience gained, and shares it with us and our partners at regional meetings.