The Development of Rural Sustainability Using Participatory Action Research: A Case Study from Guatemala


Rural sustainability, although ambiguous at times, is an evolving science on the right way to higher shared value. Despite the rising demand for sustainability, its parameterization is still underdevelopment and differs spatiotemporally. This is a case study of developing rural sustainability using participatory action research (PAR) in small farms in the southern tropical Pacific coast of the Departments of Retalhuleu and Suchitepequez in Guatemala. This study covers five years (2010-2014) of communities’ involvement in open dialogue, field research and project leadership. The data were collected through multi-dimensional approach including hands-on training, surveys with farmers and their families, and public conferences. Exploratory statistical analyses showed that the differences in the responses collected were statistically significant. In addition, the responses on average reflect gratification from the local communities. This validates the positive change of these intervention programs that are both relevant and science-based. The application of PAR in these communities has proved to successfully allow for a two-way learning process between locals and field experts, improve the livelihood and thus sustainability of their lives, and empower them to take initiative with problem-solving actions.

Share and Cite:

Anderson, F. (2015) The Development of Rural Sustainability Using Participatory Action Research: A Case Study from Guatemala. Journal of Human Resource and Sustainability Studies, 3, 28-33. doi: 10.4236/jhrss.2015.31004.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Dhiman, S. (2008) Products, People, and Planet: The Triple Bottom Line Sustainability Imperative. Journal of Global Business Issues, 2, 51-57.
[2] Freeman, I. and Hasnaoui, A. (2011) The Meaning of Corporate Social Responsibility: The Vision of Four Nations. Journal of Business Ethics, 100, 419-443.
[3] Schwab, K. (2008) Global Corporate Citizenship: Working with Governments and Civil Society. Foreign Affairs, 87, 107-118.
[4] Smith, M. (1994) The Real Dirt: Farmers Tell about Organic and Low-Input Practices in the Northeast. Northeast Organic Farmers Association.
[5] Villasante, T.R. (2006) Desbordes creativos. Estilos y estrategias para la transformaciónsocial. Los libros de la Catarata, Madrid.
[6] Cuéllar, M. and Calle, A. (2011) Can We Find Solutions with People? Participatory Action Research with Small Organic Producers in Andalusia. Journal of Rural Studies, 27, 372-383.
[7] UNESCO (2012) Integral Family Literacy: Guatemala.
[8] World Bank (2013) Guatemala: en 44% de los municipios rurales, tres de cada cuatro personas viven en pobreza.
[9] Balcazar, F.E. (2003) Participatory Action Research (PAR): Conceptual and Implementation Difficulties. Fundamentals Humanities. Year IV - No. I / II No. 7-8, 59-77.
[10] Lu, Y.C., Watkins, K.B., Teasdale, J.R. and Abdul-Baki, A.A. (2000) Cover Crops in Sustainable Food Production. Food Reviews International, 16, 121-157.
[11] Google Earth (2014) Retalhuleu and Suchitepequez Municipalities, Guatemala.
[12] R Development Core Team (2014) R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna.
[13] Semilla Nueva (2012) Annual Report 2011-2012.
[14] Semilla Nueva (2013) Annual Report 2013.
[15] Semilla Nueva (2014) Community Survey 2014—Summary of Results.
[16] Tannenbaum, R. and Schmidt, W.H. (1958) How to Choose a Leadership Pattern. Harvard Business Review, 36, 95- 101.
[17] Gauggel, C. (2012) Satus and Needs of Soil Management in Central America.
[18] Israel, B., Schultz, A., Parker, E. and Becker, A. (1998) Review of Community-Based Research: Assessing Partnership Approaches to Improve Public Health. Annual Review of Public Health, 19, 173-202.
[19] Margoluis, R. and Salafsky, N. (1998) Measures of Success: Designing, Managing and Monitoring Conservation and Development Projects. Island Press, Washington DC.

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.