Nicaragua’s water crisis isn’t the typical sort of emergency that one might think of. There is no years-long drought leaving riverbeds dry and crops withered. The water problems in Nicaragua today have more to do with location of water sources and water safety. Nicaragua is in fact known for its many lakes. But not everyone has adequate access to water. And even in some of the largest lakes in Nicaragua, water quality is considered unsafe.

People who live in remote and marginalized areas face the greatest hardship when dealing with access to safe water. In rural towns in Nicaragua, water problems can persist because there is rarely plumbing or electricity infrastructure that would allow for water collection, storage, and distribution. People who live in these areas must gather water in containers and carry them by hand, and from sources that may be far from home.

This blog post will explain how Outreach International is working to help people in impoverished communities develop safe and accessible water systems as part of a larger program to fight poverty, given the current situation in Nicaragua.

What Is the Nicaragua Water Crisis?

When people in a community have to walk to collect the water they need each day, they often collect it from open sources like rivers, ponds, or uncovered wells. These sources are exposed to insects and animals, which can lead to biological contamination. A lack of plumbing in a community also usually means that people use latrines. When these are simple pit latrines, if an excess of rain occurs, overflow can contaminate water sources that are used for drinking.

There are also industrial issues to consider. Widespread use of fertilizers and pesticides, and waste from mining practices all lead to water problems in Nicaragua today. With no way to filter these contaminants out of drinking water in Nicaragua communities, health issues become a concern. This is especially true for vulnerable populations, like children. When adults get sick they cannot work. And when children get sick they miss school. These are just some of the factors that contribute to a continuous cycle of poverty.

Clean Water Solutions in Nicaragua

Outreach International works with our program partner, Alcance Nicaragua, to find solutions to issues such as clean water and sanitation. Our experts know that the people they work with are the ones who are best able to identify the issues that are most urgent to them. And adequate access to clean water is often identified as a priority issue. Once this issue is identified and prioritized, the community group mobilizes to put a water system in place.

A first step in accessing water may be to dig a shallow well. This serves to create a water source close to home and can mean the beginning of one community’s solution to the Nicaragua water crisis. This one step can reduce the time it takes to gather water, freeing up time for people to put to productive use elsewhere. It can even mean the difference between a child going to school versus having to help the family collect water during the day. This water system almost always requires the addition of a filtration and purification mechanism to ensure water safety.

Clean Water Success Story

The rural communities of Coyolar, San Diego, and Pochotillo recently completed a water storage and purification project. Through the project, they acquired two large storage tanks and installed two chlorinators, including one at the local school and the other at their community center and clinic.

More Advanced Water Systems

Even the most remote community can develop an advanced water system by drilling a deep well permanently into the water table. This usually involves writing a proposal to hire a well drilling professional team to locate the ideal spot, drill, and fortify the well. And necessary additions to a deep well can soon follow. These include motorized pumps that might run on solar power, purification systems, storage tanks, and distribution points.

These more advanced steps can take quite a bit of time to accomplish, and community leaders must learn a great deal about the development process to get to this point. But when this final goal is achieved, the effect it has on the community can seem miraculous.

Clean Water Success Story

The community of El Llanito is further along in its development process with the Outreach International program partner, Alcance Nicaragua. Their water project is bringing a water pump to a deep well, a purification system, storage tanks and distribution points. This is a bold project that is only possible from a community that has grown in knowledge and experience over time.

Community-Led Development Leads to Sustainable Results

The entire methodology of community-led development is based on the understanding that those most affected by poverty-related issues are the ones best suited to identify and solve these problems. The participatory human development process employed by Outreach and its program partners equips communities with the knowledge, resources, and abilities to do just that.

Adequate access to clean water and sanitation is one of the most basic needs that must be met for a community to achieve its full potential. Alcance Nicaragua has facilitated successful water projects for decades, and fostered great partnerships. The Nicaragua water crisis persists. But when communities gain the time and health benefits of adequate access to safe water, a world of development, prosperity, and hope begins to open up all around them.

How To Help

You can do more to help people achieve development goals like gaining access to safe water for children and families. Watch this video about how access to water changes lives, and learn about our participatory human development process and how it leads to solutions that can last for generations.