Adaptation of Rural Development to Climate Change

Project description

Title: Adaption of Rural Development to Climate Change
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Guatemala
Lead executing agency: Ministerio de Ambiente y Recursos Naturales de la República de Guatemala (MARN)
Overall term: 2013 to 2018



Guatemala contributes only 0.5 per cent to the global emission of greenhouse gasses (GHG). Its geographic location, however, makes Guatemala a country particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Hurricanes and heavy rains occur more often and additionally, the length of droughts have increased. The quality of environmental resources, such as soil, forest and water, has declined due to exploitation.

Poverty and population growth are forcing farmers to overuse the soil, altering their crop lines. This impacts the minimisation of productivity and the resilience of ecosystems to the effects of climate change.
In recent years, Guatemala has been directly affected by several tropical storms of considerable magnitude: Hurricane Mitch (1998), Storm Stan (2005), Storm Agatha (2010). Storm Stan alone caused damage equivalent to three per cent of GDP.

Decentralised structures are weak, which impedes the implementation of a national policy on climate change and rural development. Because the effects of climate change are more severe in rural areas, this puts rural communities in danger. There is insufficient water, as 95 per cent of the bodies of water are contaminated. Moreover, the lack of experts makes it difficult to have sustainable water supply management.


In selected regions, national ministries, regional and local administrations, the private sector and civil society have coordinated measures in the field of adapting to; and managing climate change.



The programme is aimed at establishing a balance between the use and protection of resources. Measures are developed in the field, such as protection against erosion through small water harvesting systems that promote an efficient use of natural resources.

The programme also supports municipal administrations in the implementation of regulatory frameworks and policies for the protection and sustainable use of local natural resources. It advises the municipalities on how to put into practice mechanisms and participatory regulatory measures with the populations that are affected. For example, it advises on the collection, distribution and discharge of water, considering solid and agricultural waste. An effort is being made to reduce the burning and clearing as an agricultural practice. Likewise, the municipalities together with the population are implementing protective measures in the areas where there is erosion, reforesting and restoring parts of the riverbanks. There is also strong support in the municipal plans of wastewater treatment plants.

Through counselling, the programme promotes advice on public policy issues related to the environment in conjunction with the ministries that work on the issue at the national level. Apart from collaborating with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), the programme also works with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food – (MAGA), with the National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology – (INSIVUMEH) and with the National Secretariat of Planning (SEGEPLAN).
The implementation of the project is also supported by the GOPA consultancy, which advises selected municipalities to build capacities for water management and harvesting, as well as for their treatment.


The first step towards a sustainable water distribution for the city of Salamá, in the department of Baja Verapaz, is in the process of consultation with the Municipality, the Mayor and the Municipal Council. As a first result, they have declared the water spring a municipal protected area in the Cachil River.

Also in Baja Verapaz, the 60 municipal technicians of Rabinal, San Miguel Chicaj and Cubulco have been trained in environmental policies and implementation of measures to address climate change.
In the municipality of Morazán in El Progreso, there is a strong discussion on how to handle the issue of fire clearings and grazing in agriculture. This process is being validated by local farmers and the general population.

In the communities of the aforementioned municipalities, there are between 19 and 42 measures implemented on issues of water collection for agricultural and domestic use. It is important to mention that the communities give one third of the total amount of the measure.

The programme has organised national and international seminars to strengthen the interchange of knowledge on the topic of adaptation to climate change. This has had an impact on national discussions. The country already has a Framework Law on Climate Change and a National Action Plan for Climate Change, which aims to plan and consider the national and municipal budget in terms of climate change.