top of page

Sanik-Ya & Chitulul

Putting the Sanik-Ya and Chitulul Water Project into Context

Another day at the office: Placement of the tank to enable the SunSpring installation in Sanik-Ya

Andy Karp and Bruce Clemens, 2018


A number of years ago Father Greg Schaffer (R.I.P.), a missionary parish priest in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala, asked local people working with him to assemble a list of the towns’ "poorest of the poor": those without land, without a job, without education. Father Greg then had the parish’s community development fund purchase land in Sanik-Ya and Chitulul, and donated that land to these “poorest of the poor". Unfortunately, the land couldn’t be occupied because of the lack of drinking water there. Father Greg was aware of that, but, as an eternal optimist, he had faith (that’s the right word to use here) that somehow a drinking water system would eventually be built for Sanik-Ya and Chitulul.  These extremely poor people now have the land.  Only one family was able to more permanently to the land before the water arrived.


The generous support of Rotary International, Jim Zenner, Nic Keiderling, Dr. Keith McKenzie and a number of California Rotary Clubs made it possible.  With the funds raised previously by Furman University Students, and the People’s Consultants; and the supervision of Joe Wakely and the NGO Agua del Pueblo, the water has arrived and will continue to arrive sustainably.


Now that many more have moved to the communities, they are able to plant and tend coffee, as the climate and soil are ideal.  However, coffee takes about five years after initial planting before it produces a profitable crop.  So, in a few years, after their crops of coffee mature, they will make it.  This will truly revolutionize their lives.  However, it cost these citizens more than 15,000 person-days of volunteer labor.


To add some quantification, students from Furman University did a socio-economic survey of the future residents of Sanik-Ya and Chitulul.  They determined that the average income was $2.00 per day (about $700 per year) PER FAMILY!  With an average family size of six, that’s only US$0.33 per person per day ($122 per person per year).  The World Bank 2010 data for Guatemala indicates that the Gross National Income Per Capita for Guatemala is $2,740 and for the Lower Middle class the average annual income is $1,619 in US dollars. Thus the potential beneficiaries of this project survive on only about 4.5% of the income of the average Guatemalan, or about 7.5% of that of an average lower middle class Guatemalan.  Indeed, they are among the poorest of the poor.  


The following puts the Sanik-Ya and Chitulul project into an international context.


Fifteen years ago all 191 United Nations member countries agreed to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which included halving the number of people in the world who lacked access to safe water by the year 2015.  Remarkably, that goal has been met, largely because of phenomenal progress in China and India, but also with impressive progress elsewhere.


The above impressive achievement masks the following. Almost all of the progress in improving access to safe water has been made by serving people who were truly poor, but who were not among the very poorest of the poor.  This has happened because it is much more difficult to help the very poorest of the poor.  The case of Sanik-Ya and Chitulul is an example, as the people of that community are truly some of the poorest of the poor, and as such they cannot contribute to financing of construction, except for volunteer labor, of which they have contributed a huge amount, and paying a monthly fee for operation and maintenance.


Everyone involved in past efforts around the world can take pride in how many poor people have been helped in recent years.  However, as we move forward, the challenge of focusing on the poorest of the poor must be met.  This will not be easy, but we are on the right track.  Congratulations and thank you. 



Economic Sustainability of the Sanik-Ya and Chitulul Water Project:

The Agua del Pueblo and WASH Models

By Andy Karp and Bruce Clemens

Sunday, October 18, 2015:




1.  Electrical (pumping costs)

 Based on the most recent engineering design by Agua del Pueblo (attached):

  • The average flow rate is 2.44 liters per second * 15.9gallons/minute/1 liter/second = 38.8 gallons/minute.

  • The Total Dynamic Head is the sum of static head and head loss due to friction in the pipe.  The design calculates that the Static head is 120 meters and the friction head is 11.3 for a total of 131 meters.  Thus the Total Dynamic Head is 430 feet (131 meters * 3.28 feet/meter)


The equation to determine the average Water Horsepower (WHp) is WHp = HQ / 3960, where: H=Total Dynamic Head (in feet) and Q is the water flow rate (in gallons per minute).  Thus, the total average Water Horse Power over a 24 hour period is WHp = 430ft*34gpm/3960 = 3.69. 


Pumps are also a source of energy loss.  Agua del Pueblo estimates that a typical pump for the project is 69% efficient in delivering electric energy to the water.  Using a pump efficiency of 69%, the average horsepower needed if the pump were to function 24 hours per day would be 3.69/0.69 = 5.33 Hp.  (In practice, a pump with four times this horsepower would only need to pump for one quarter of the day, or 6 hours, but would consume the same number of kilowatt-hours of energy in those six hours as a 5.27 Horsepower (Hp) pump would consume over 24 hours).


Electric rates are charged per Kilowatts-Hours. One Horsepower is equal to 0.75 Kilowatts.  Thus the pump will draw a total of 5.33 x 0.75 = 4.00 Kilowatts each hour during a 24 hour period or 96 Kilowatt-Hours (KWH)/day. 


The San Lucas Municipality will be eligible for the "social rate" price for electricity.  The social rate is a special price charged by the utility for certain socially beneficial uses, such as pumping of water).  Based on recent experience and published reports, Agua del Pueblo assumes the social rate for Sanik-Ya and Chitulul water project will be $0.19 per KWH.  (


Thus the electric charges for the pump will be 96 x 0.19 = $18.24/day or $6,658/year.  Based on the attached AdP design, the total population served (the design population) is 2,112.  Hajny & Clemens (2005) found that the average family size is six.  Thus the total number of families served is 352 families.  Therefore the total electric cost per family is $18.91/year ($6,658/352).


2. Cost for engineering oversight and maintenance of the system and repairs


Currently the best estimate for support for Agua del Pueblo for maintenance, oversight, administration repairs and engineering is $50/month or $600/year.  Thus the total operational cost per family is 600/352 = $1.70




The total cost per family is the sum of the electrical costs and the operational costs of $20.61 ($18.91 + $1.70).


Hajny and Clemens (2015) found that the average income for a beneficiary family is  $730/year.  Thus, individual families would be paying 2.8% of their income ($20.61/$730.) on the water project.  Agua del Pueblo has found that Guatemalan residents can pay up to 5% of their income on water.  Thus the project is economically feasible



Agua del Pueblo. 2015.  Design of the Sanik-Ya and Chitulul Integrated Water and Community Development Project (Attached).


Hajny, K. and B. Clemens. 2015. “Water and wealth: A Guatemalan case study, IZA Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research, in press




Rotary International thoughtfully supplied a model to review our findings.  Ms. Erica Gwynn, Area of Focus Manager, Water and Sanitation, Programs and Grants

Manager of RI/USAID International H2O Collaboration and Ms. Maria Eugenia Emig, the Regional Grants Officer, Latin America Region of The Rotary Foundation recommended an alternative cost estimating model.  The International Reference Centre for Community Water Supply (IRC) developed the WASHCost Model.   Running the model can provide a ‘second opinion’ on the sustainability of the project.


The data on our project required for the WASH Cost model included:

  1. The project is best classified as a “Single-town scheme”

  2. The design population: 2,112

  3. The total capital cost is $100,000 or $47.34/person ($100,000/2112).

  4. Once installed, residents will spend less than ten minutes to collect water.

  5. Based on the analysis in the AdP model the average operating cost per person is $3.44 ($20.61/6 persons per family).

  6. The design demand is >60 liters/person/day (Actually it is 100 liters/person/day)

  7.  The AdP plan will include regular water quality testing which meets standards.

  8.  We assumed that the project might produce 12 days a year without service.


When one plugs in these data, the WASHCost model concludes:

The “Expenditure is within WASHCost benchmarks.”


Your content has been submitted

An error occurred. Try again later

bottom of page