Ixchel: Building understanding of the physical, cultural and socio-economic drivers of risk for strengthening resilience in the Guatemalan cordillera

Lead Research Organisation: British Geological Survey
Department Name: Earth Hazards & Observatories


Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

Planned Impact

This project aims to benefit and strengthen capacities of vulnerable populations facing natural hazards and systemic risks and government institutions and civil society orgs. responsible for and working in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in Guatemala. Impact will be achieved through a series of research-into-action activities that bring physical sciences into dialogue with social sciences and humanities as well as indigenous cosmovisions. The significant percentage (over 20%) of the budget requested for these innovative activities also reflects their importance within the project design. This proposal has been co-developed with Guatemalan investigators and stakeholders, ensuring knowledge production with end users and grounding in the local context, thus increasing its potential to generate impact in the short, and long term. Co-designed engagement and impact activities include:
1) Three project workshops in Guatemala that will bring together scientific, government, intergovernmental, civil society, private sector and community representatives. These will provide a space for exchange and assessment of the research methods, questions and results and a discussion of pathways to embed that knowledge in practice at the policy level. We will also coordinate a dialogue-focused symposium to share our results and invite collaborators from other GCRF projects, to strengthen interdisciplinary and cross-organisational dialogue around DRR priorities.
2) Data collection will take place through a series of interdisciplinary workshops, participatory art and ethnographic research designed to give voices to indigenous and marginalised peoples and acknowledge different knowledge practices and ways of representing risk. This will produce new knowledge about hazards and risk and useful tools to help respond to them (maps, evacuation routes and plans).
3) The capstone docunovela will have multiple forms of impact, both as a process and as a final text. By dealing with the question of risk in a way that takes account of the multiple geographies at play in Guatemala, it will speak to different audiences, not only communities at risk, but also government agencies and emergency managers, development practitioners, hazard scientists and Guatemalan ladino elites. It will put urgent debates on the political agenda and will function as an advocacy and mobilising tool. We will seek to export it to other countries so that its benefits can proliferate globally.
4) Capacity strengthening activities for this project take place at all levels of our engagement with stakeholders. By the end of the project, the government institutes responsible for hazard monitoring, assessment and emergency response will be able to use a range of tools and methods that will outlast the project duration and improve their capacity in the short and long term. Local communities will also have enhanced capacities and be trained in research methods including ethnographic methodologies and knowledge exchange. To ensure lasting impact this project will also engage with the higher education sector in Guatemala. During the technical visits from UK researchers, we plan to impart two short courses targeted at undergraduate students and researchers associated with risk management, to strengthen long-term physical and socioeconomic resilience.
Our findings will be presented in academic papers and reports in Spanish, Mayan languages and English. The promotion and dissemination of research results and methodologies in different languages has the long-term potential to benefit institutions in Guatemala and those working with populations at risk in similar contexts elsewhere.
To monitor and evaluate project impact we plan to apply the Theory of Change methodology. We have drafted an initial version for the proposed project and we will further co-develop this strategy with representatives of key stakeholder groups who will be invited to participate in this exercise at the first workshop.


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Description We have established with INSIVUMEH and Ixchel research partners a need for a range of survey and geophysical equipment in order to collect data on ground deformation and instability. This equipment has been acquired, delivered to INIVUMEH and training of INSIVUMEH staff has been delivered over one week in March 2023.
Exploitation Route INSIVUMEH will begin collecting a range of different data sets which can be analysed and further collaborative research activities can be explored.
Sectors Construction,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport

Description INSIVUMEH is a research and operational institution in Guatemala, responsible for advising CONRED (civil protection authority) about geohazards and hydrometeorological hazards. The findings of Ixchel research have enabled INSIVUMEH to identify their needs in terms of equipment to collect systematic data on ground conditions, ground deformation/instability and landslides. BGS have purchased this equipment for INSIVUMEH and provided training for its use. INSIVUMEH is now collecting systematic data on ground conditions, ground deformation/instability and landslides which will be analysed during the Ixchel project.
First Year Of Impact 2023
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description Interdisciplinary collaboration between UK and Guatemalan institutions and communities 
Organisation National Institute for Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology of Guatemala
Country Guatemala 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Project has just started, currently at discussion stage.
Collaborator Contribution Project has just started, currently at discussion stage.
Impact Collaboration just starting.
Start Year 2021