Skip to main content

5 November 2021 - Story

The Trails of ETA-IOTA one year after the emergency

Two little girls walking through the stones, as a result of Eta and Iota storms

I remember that a year ago, on November 5th,  rains began and lasted all day and night; By the morning of November 6th, we received the news that a landslide had occurred in Palop and there were missing people ”

These are the first memories that Francisco (40), a father of a family and member of the Potable Water Committee for the community of Salquil Grande, in Nebaj, Quiché, who a year ago suffered with his family from the onslaught of tropical storms Eta-Iota in Guatemala.

From one day to the next, bridges had been destroyed, crops were lost, some families lost their homes completely and others had to move with their children seeking refuge in shelters and the homes of their neighbors for fear of floods and mudslides.

“My children, when they heard the news and saw that people ran from one place to another, they asked me what was happening; I was not sure what to answer, as I was very surprised and everything was unexpected; however, I am very grateful that my family managed to be safe, ”says Francisco

As in many of the Quiché communities that were affected by the passage of the storms, the loss of water systems also represented a serious problem, leaving the well-being and health of the girls, boys and their families at risk. For Nicolás (63), a community leader from Salquil, this was alarming.

“With so much rain, the drinking water pipes, everything had disappeared. The only thing we could do was collect the rainwater; using barrels and drums we hoped to gather something to drink and we stayed that way for several weeks ”

Faced with this emergency, Save the Children's RETOS project was created, implemented with the support of USAID and the United States Government Humanitarian Response Office, whose objective was to provide humanitarian assistance to families affected by these storms, specifically in the municipalities of Nebaj, Chajul and Cotzál del Quiché.

Efforts focused on reducing food insecurity and supporting access to water and sanitation for children and their families. The humanitarian assistance included the rehabilitation of 26 water systems in the Ixil region, an action that Nicolás recognizes as an important benefit for his entire community.

“When they came a year ago, our community was destroyed and we didn't have access to clean water. Today, we feel satisfied and very grateful with the program, for the work they did here; Now the 1,400 families that live in this area of Nebaj have safe water, ”says Nicolás.

Community leader

The support of community leaders and the entire community, who contributed labor to streamline the process, was key in the rehabilitation of water systems.

“It took us 30 to 35 days to complete the job and now we are very satisfied, because the effort was worth it. In the houses, the children have access to clean water to bathe, the mothers can cook food with peace of mind and we can also wash our hands and clothes without problems ”, says Francisco, who now hopes that something similar will not happen again in the future 

Likewise, during the emergency, we had the opportunity to support thousands of girls, boys, adolescents and their families through the valuable institutional and corporate alliances that we have at Save the Children.                                                        

Thank you to all of our allies who made our humanitarian response possible! 

With this support we were able to deliver:

- Pounds of Fortified Oats for shelters donated by REPINSA.

- Emergency supplies such as clean water and toilet paper donated by the Chamber of Industry of Guatemala.

- Nutrilisto satchets for girls, boys and pregnant mothers in shelters donated by Listo +.

- Health emergency soap bars donated by Colgate-Palmolive.

- Gel alcohol donated by the Miguel Torrebiarte de Sohanin Foundation.

- Boots with steel toe for response donated by Grupo Coban.

- Blankets for shelters donated by the Los Corrales Rice Cooker.


From Save the Children, we will continue to do everything necessary to protect children from any real or potential danger that increases their vulnerability and reduces their potential for integral development. It is important to recognize children as stakeholders, under equal conditions and key agents of change for the management of any emergency. Today, we are together to say: Childhood, at the center of any emergency!