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Guatemala Project Builds Tech from the Ground Up

Xeni Jardin, NPR /
Enlarge this image to locate the village of Quetzaltenango.
Scott Stroud, NPR /
Enlarge this image to locate the village of Quetzaltenango.

Many of Guatemala's rural indigenous communities lack infrastructure basics such as clean drinking water, sanitation and electricity.

A group of American eco-engineers in the United States from the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group is working with a number of Mayan villages to change that.

At Xela Teco, a workshop in the town of Quetzaltenango (or Xela for short), tech-minded Guatemalans build eco-friendly devices. The workshop is a small business supported by the U.S.-based nonprofit Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group.


Xela Teco builds environmentally friendly technology that can be used to bring survival basics to poverty-stricken villages in the Mayan highlands: clean water, electricity and fuel.

While Americans are part of the Xela Teco effort right now, their goal is to step aside. The hope is that arming rural communities with certain skill sets will help break a cycle of poverty, disease and malnutrition.

If the effort is successful, Xela Teco may end up becoming a blueprint for the future of development work.

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