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 General Information

Situated in Central America, Guatemala has an area of 108,890 sq. km.  It is bounded on the east by Belize, Amatique Bay, and the Caribbean Sea, on the southeast by Honduras and El Salvador, on the south by the Pacific Ocean, and on the west and north by Mexico, with a total boundary length of 2,087 km. Guatemala is a Spanish speaking country with a high ethnic diversity (25 actual languages, 23 of them are Mayan languages) Another remarkable characteristic is its complex geomorphology: there are 34 volcanoes (3 active)  and has an altitudinal profile from sea level to 4220 meters over sea level. Guatemala is known as a biologically megadiverse country. Guatemala’s capital, Guatemala City, is located in the south central part of the country and has a population of about 4.7 million. The total population of the country is 15.86 million (2014, World Bank).

The capital is Guatemala City and the total population is 15.86 million (2014, World Bank).

For more information see:


Current Issues and Challenges in Wastewater Management

(Source: “Regional Sectoral Overview of Wastewater Management in the Wider Caribbean Region. Situational Analysis” prepared by UNEP-CEP/RCU in 2010.)


  • According to the Ministry of Planning and Programming of the Presidency of the Republic, in Guatemala the piped water supply has improved significantly. Water coverage of households in the country (household water to several homes or public stream) increased from 52.3% in 1981 to 68.4% in 1994 to reach 74.6% in 2002. Significant differences remain in coverage between urban and rural areas. For 2002, the urban coverage reached 89.4% of households surveyed, and rural areas stood at 59.6%.
  • There has been improvement in coverage rates of wastewater treatment systems. The table below indicates that coverage has improved with proper disposal (toilets and flushable toilets) from 24.8% of households in 1981 to 46.9% in 2002, but still too low to ensure adequate quality of life for the population, with almost six million people without access to this basic service. In urban areas the proper coverage reaches 76.7% of households, while at the rural level is only 16.8%. Wastewater is treated in very few places (only 5% nationally), so that the sewage flows into rivers and surface water, polluting other water resources.


Households by type of health service, according to census year

Type of Service





















Flushable toilet







Latrine or cesspool














               Censos de población y Habitación 2002, INE.


  • Nine percent of urban sewage is treated before discharge and of that part, 46% receives only primary treatment, with the remainder receiving secondary treatment (UNEP, 2000).
  • The Government has established an overarching policy for national water resource management, the National Policy for Integrated Management of Water Resources, which contains six themes including Water and Human Development, where water and sanitation is a priority.  From this policy was derived the National Plan of Public Utilities Water and Sanitation for Human Development 2008-2011 (Guatemala Country Strategy, 2007).
  • Policies have been developed at the community level. An association of eight municipalities in the Río Naranjo basin, Communities Associated for the Water, Environment, Integral Development and Infrastructure, was formed in 2005 and developed Municipal Water Policies through dialogues focused on “rights and obligations.” The Municipal Water Policies is a consensus document related to the valuation of water resources and their management, which is recognized by the municipal authorities that participate in its implementation. Citizens and authorities have become involved in its design and in the designation of resources for its implementation with the help of specialized institutions.  One of the dimensions of the water policies is to promote collectivism and the contribution of municipal government in multi-stakeholder investments in order to support the awareness-raising programs as well as the development of environmental infrastructure (GWP, 2008).
  • A large share of the financing for water and sanitation comes from foreign donors. Communities and local governments, however, also make significant contributions in the form of unqualified labour, local materials and cash contributions. For example, under the program "Agua, fuente de paz" initiated in 1992, communities contributed 35%, and local governments and other local stakeholders 25%, of project costs, with only 40% financed by donors. The program supported 800 rural communities, focusing on those in extreme poverty.
  • In 2008 a special “Water Cabinet” was created by Governmental Agreement 2004-2008 with the purpose of coordinating government efforts to design and manage policies, plans and budgets for the water to help achieve goals and objectives of national development. This cabinet consists of 22 government institutions, including ministries and departments and is chaired and coordinated by the Vice President of the Republic of Guatemala. Among its objectives are: a) promote the adoption and implementation of criteria for integrated management of water resources in all public institutions, centralized and decentralized; b) ensure the contribution of water to achieve the goals and objectives of national development c) facilitate the coordination of government agencies, autonomous and civil or private, to achieve sustainable management of water resources of the country, d) ensure the harmonious implementation of financial and human resources allocated to water management and e) promote institutional strengthening and public participation in water sector, to promote good governance in the field.
  • Constitutionally, the provision of water and sanitation services is the responsibility of the municipalities. Services can be provided directly by a single municipality or through a group of municipalities which are organized to provide services together (“mancomunidades”). Most of the resources that they invest come from the central government.
  • Guatemala has a relatively well-established system of community-based providers of water and sanitation services. Assistance to community-based service providers is a key function in the water and sanitation sector. In Guatemala this function is not clearly assigned to a government institution. INFOM, through UNEPAR (see above under policy), does provide this function. In addition, many NGOs also support community-based organizations.
  • Guatemala’s Water and Sanitation Network, formed in 2006, is heavily involved in advocating for policy changes within the water and sanitation sector. Institutions involved in RASGUA include national and local Guatemalan government units, Water For People –Guatemala, and, other local and international NGOs, and the private sector.

LBS Status

The Government of the Republic of Guatemala has not yet submitted documents of accession to the LBS Protocol. 

Key Documents

Coming soon.



More Resources

Coming soon.



What is the CReW?

The CReW is a four-year project that began in 2011. It is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Our Location

Project Coordinating Group

Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management
c/o Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
40 - 46 Knutsford Boulevard
Kingston 5
Jamaica, W.I.

Phone: +(876) 764-0815


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