A systems approach to community engaged integrated solid waste management in Todos Santos Cuchumatan, Guatemala




Marshall, Rachael

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University of Guelph


Solid waste management (SWM) is a growing problem in developing countries around the world. In Guatemala, indigenous communities, which are predominantly rural and remote, are particularly hard hit by a lack of basic SWM services. Todos Santos, situated in the Cuchumatanes mountain range of northwestern Guatemala, is one such community. As projects developed, planned, and implemented from 'the top down' continue to be ineffective, the literature provides little insight about remote communities' perspectives on exactly what issues SWM creates, influences, and exacerbates, and how they might respond to these concerns themselves. Using a participatory systems approach, this study investigated the systemic structures and behaviours that maintain and exacerbate SWM challenges in Todos Santos, and where key places (leverage points) to intervene in the system may exist. The study presents a wide selection of locally appropriate SWM solutions to target these leverage points in the form of four future scenarios These scenarios act as a step-wise implementation plan for gradual implementation in the community, each building upon the previous, ultimately reaching a community-defined vision for SWM.



solid waste management, systems approach, indigenous communities, post-normal science