El Cortijo, Guatemala

El Cortijo is a small community of about 200 residents residing in the central region of Guatemala about an hour outside of Guatemala City. In the summer of 2014, ETHOS students traveled to El Cortijo for the first time, working with a community partner who leads a medical clinic in the community. 


In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared that every human being has the right to have access to water for personal and domestic use (50-100 L of water per person per day). This water must be clean, acceptable, affordable, and physically accessible. This means water should not exceed 3% of household income, be no more than 1000 meters from home, have a collection time of no greater than 30 minutes and be safe for consumption [1].

780 million people lack access to clean water [2] and the people of El Cortijo, a small community in Southern Guatemala, fall into this category. In 2014, ETHOS students assessed the possible options to increase the amount of water from current and future sources. During the immersion, the group designed a larger reinforced concrete storage tank, and designed and built a rainwater collection system on the community’s medical clinic. As an additional project, the team worked on designing the layout for a two-story surgery center to be constructed next to the clinic. 

Project Poster: Water Systems in El Cortijo


“ETHOS is the reason why I chose UD. The program has helped me open my eyes to all the possibilities of my degree. The people of Guatemala are so passionate about everything, including the relationships I know we’ll share for years to come.”

- Colleen Kresse, 2014 ETHOS participant, Guatemala

“One of the most gratifying feelings I got from the immersion was when a member of the community saw me walking around the village and didn't say anything because he knew I was going to be there tomorrow. We started as a work team and ended up as a family members.”

- Ivan Rodriguez, 2014 ETHOS participant, Guatemala


[1] http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/water

[2] Estimated with data from WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation. (2012). Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-Water, 2012 Update.

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