• Stuart Mawditt

Plan Huerta: An introduction

We have started working alongside The Phoenix Projects, looking to use our engineering experience and resources to support the valuable work they are doing to improve education and employment opportunities in Honduras, Ecuador, Perú, and Guatemala.

The Phoenix Projects work with local teams to implement and maintain sustainable income projects, giving local communities the opportunity to improve their quality of life. Projects involve the loan of initial capital, for example investing in seeds or livestock, which allows communities to establish a sustainable source of income. The proceeds of which are used to run community schools, pay teachers, or fund further education. The initial capital is then paid back, allowing more schemes to be generated, helping more communities.

Image 1: The excavation of large pond as part of Plan Tilapia, which will allow communities to farm fish which they can then sell at local markets

Plan Huerta

Our initial work with The Phoenix Projects has been around Plan Huerta in Honduras. This project encourages the creation of community and individual smallholdings, with the crops grown providing families with access to a healthy food source. Surplus crops can be sold to provide a small income to support education.

One of the challenges in Honduras is the dry season, which can stretch from the end of December through to February, and sometimes even through to April! During this period, the region gets very limited rainfall and it is therefore almost impossible to grow crops.

We have started to explore cost effective rainwater harvesting solutions, which would allow water to be collected and stored for use through the dry season. By combining this with the use of polytunnels, to reduce evaporation, it is hoped that year-round farming can be achieved.

Image 2: One of the terrace smallholdings with an irrigation system

Storms Eta and Iota

In early November, Storm Eta brought devastating flooding to Central America and the Caribbean. This has caused huge damage and disruption to the communities in Honduras. Many of the communities were completely unreachable for days while they waited for the storm waters to drop.

Just as the communities were starting to recover, this terrible storm was followed by another of similar proportions this week, Storm Iota. We are still waiting to understand the impacts of this storm and our thoughts are with the communities affected.

These recent events highlight the importance of the work that The Phoenix Projects is doing to support these communities and is something we are proud to be involved in.

Image 3: A farmer surveys his crops that were destroyed by Storm Eta

The future

We are currently researching the opportunities for small-scale rainwater harvesting and sponsoring a trial of some simple solutions and understanding how we can get more involved with the projects, offering our skills as engineers and financial support.

Think you can help? We would love to hear from anyone who has practical experience of rainwater harvesting, or other sustainable small-scale water projects, within developing countries.