|Santa Clara la Laguna, on the banks of lake Atitlan is situated 147 kms from Guatemala. Though placed in spectacular natural beauty, the people of this region live in extreme hardship and poverty: 85% exist below the poverty line with 65% illiteracy, high levels of child malnutrition, lack of basic infrastructure and 60% unemployment.
The people of this region belong to the ancient Mayan culture and the K’che’ indigenous ethnic group. One of the most traditional activities of this community is the manual crafting of articles from cane fibre. Cane plants grow by the lake and each craftsperson has their own crop. Cane is an incredible natural resource which flourishes the more it is cut, ensuring the ecological sustainability of the system.
A project financed by the Social Service Department of the Council of Madrid, Spain, and carried out by both CIDEAL, in Madrid, and FUNDAP, in Guatemala, was directed to promote sustainable development of the handicraft producers and their families, who work the cane fibre, exploiting the abundantly locally available resource.
The beneficiaries of this project belong to the poorest social class, and are unable to
fulfill their basic daily needs; consequently, they lack housing, education, and employment.
Two complementary actions were carried out simultaneously in order to achieve the main aims of the project: