A healthy environment starts at home
In a nutshell
Guatemala’s worst health and environmental problems stem from poor housing. The country's housing shortage forces about half the populationto live in inadequate, unsanitary dwellings that lack one or more basic services – water, energy and sanitation – and have harmful, wasteful impacts on the environment.
While Guatemala has ample water and forest cover, both resources are disappearingfast. Most people cook over open wood fires, which depletes forests and aquifers andcausesrespiratory ailments – now the country’s leading cause of death. Many people dig unregulated wells and use open-pit latrines, and most piped sewage is discharged untreated into waterways. Over 95% of rivers are polluted. Widespread sustainable housing solutions could solve many of these challenges.
CASSA – the winner of our 2018 ReSource Award – builds sustainable social housing in Guatemala that provides customers with clean water, clean energy and sanitation while saving them money and protecting forests and water bodies. In addition to full-service sanitation, CASSA-built homes feature solar panels and efficient smokeless stoves; capture, filter and store rainwater; and reuse grey water in a family garden.
The rural and urban customers CASSA targets have an average annual income of between USD 300 and USD 600 per year per five-person household. With about 500 000 households able to pay a low monthly mortgage payment and houses selling for an average of USD 10 000, Guatemala represents a huge potential market.
CASSA partners with local and international financial institutions to offer customers long-term micro-mortgages and with providers of water filters, water pumps, solar panels, smokeless stoves and building materials to ensure uninterrupted supply. To take its business model to scale, the enterprise is using a grant from the Swiss Re Foundation to hire more personnel and launch a wide-ranging marketing campaign.
Goals and Expected Impact
CASSA customers and the regions where they live stand to benefit from the construction of adequate, sustainable housing and the retrofitting of existing housing stock, from improved health and psychological well-being to economic development and ecosystem services. With the support of the Foundation, CASSA has developed a scalable model to expand sustainable construction at the bottom of the pyramid in partnership with MFIs.