Ak’Tenamit — Guatemala


Ak’Tenamit Community

The Ak’Tenamit community in Eastern Guatemala includes vocational middle and high schools, residential facilities, health clinic, farm, fair trade store, and restaurant. Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is partnering with Ak’Tenamit to improve community sanitation, water quality, and energy supply. At peak capacity, the school serves 500 students, ranging in age from 11 to early twenties, and 100 staff and families. The EWB Ak’Tenamit program has three focus areas: sanitation, water supply, and energy supply.


In 2014, the project team completed installation toilet facilities for the classrooms and boys’ dormitories that include fourteen flush toilets, four waterless urinals, a hand washing station, water supply powered by a solar pump, and an anaerobic baffled reactor for treating the waste water. The toilet facilities were installed in a new building, designed and built by Rotary District 6440.

Our current work includes monitoring the installed system, ongoing training in system operations for community maintenance staff, and installation of a comparable system at a second site that serves the community health clinic and girls’ dormitories.

Water Supply

In 2013, the project team installed a rainwater harvesting system to improve water supply at the boys’ wash building and repaired wash tubs at the girls’ wash building. In 2014, the team installed a 10,000 liter water storage tank that increased the community’s water storage capacity so that the new sanitation system could be supported.

Our current work includes planning for further improvements on the girl’s campus.  This will include installation of a sanitation system similar to the one installed on the school’s main campus.  The implementation will include upgrades at the lavatory and also systems monitoring to ensure sufficient water is supplied to meet community needs.

Energy Supply

In 2014, the team installed a solar water pump and solar array to support the pump. Replacing the gas powered pump system has provided significant cost savings to the community.

Our current work includes assessment of additional energy needs and opportunities to provide sustainable power sources.

Working as a Team

Although the project has three focus areas, the team works collaboratively. For example, the solar powered pump supplies all of the water for the main campus including to the new storage tank, which ensures reliable water supply for the sanitation system. Our priorities are developed in partnership with the community and our work includes ongoing monitoring, operation and maintenance training, and curriculum development to facilitate teaching about the projects in the Ak’Tenamit school.

Current Status

We are currently preparing for a trip to Ak’Tenamit in February 2015. We will be collecting data as we prepare to implement the second sanitation project, design improvements to the girls’ wash building, provide additional operation and maintenance training, and monitor the success of the installed projects.

Our partners

  • Asociación Ak’Tenamit
  • Guatemalan Tomorrow Fund
  • Rotary International, District 6440
  • Rotary District 6930 (Southeastern Florida) – Energy & Water
  • Rotary Club of Oak Park–River Forest – Water
  • Rotary Club of Saint Charles Breakfast – Sanitation
  • Rotary Club of Libertyville Sunrise – Sanitation
  • SoCore Energy: Solar modules for Water and Aquaponics projects
  • Bechtel Corporation: Sanitation (toilets urinals and sanitary materials) via EWB-USA Spring and Fall Grant Processes
  • Boeing Past Sponsor via EWB Grant Sponsor
  • American Society of Civil Engineers Past sponsor via EWB Grant Process
  • EWB-USA, Chicagoland Professional Chapter: Utility design and construction, travel, logistics and in country expenses
  • Community of Ak’ Tenamit: Purchase of various construction materials, salaries for skilled labor and donated manpower
  • URS and URS employees for the use of their conference rooms and facilities
    Everyone who contributed through the EWB-USA Year end campaign

Our Sponsors

  • ASCE Illinois Chapter
  • Knovel