Four indigenous communities celebrate new water system in Nicaragua

Homes, schools and a health center are benefiting from the new gravity-fed safe water supply system, which serves four indigenous communities in Sukuas Abajo, Leymus Kukalaya, Siska and Bocana de Greytown, in the municipality of Puerto Cabezas, Autonomous Region of the Northern Caribbean Coast.

This initiative of Nicaragua Rural project includes a water collection and treatment system, two storage tanks and approximately 48 kilometers of pipelines, which will provide safe water to more than 1,000 people in their homes, 24 hours a day, year-round.

The system will also provide safe water services to four primary schools. The intervention at the schools and the San Pablo Health Center included the construction of sanitary facilities with toilets and sinks designed to serve people with disabilities.

Robin Centeno presents the new sanitation unit at the San Pablo Health Center. Photo: WaterAid - Eduardo Rodriguez.

Robin Centeno, a nurse at the health center, says these services make a big difference.

"I do my best to provide decent care to my patients. The biggest difficulty was the lack of latrines, which are essential in a health center. Now we have flush toilets and showers."

With the infrastructure in place, the community Water and Sanitation Committees (CAPS) have been trained in governance, water resource management, and system operation, administration and maintenance. In addition, the communities have 18 new promoters of good hygiene practices, who regularly visit households to teach about water storage, hygiene habits and hand washing.

As part of Rural Nicaragua's Social Art for Behavioural Change (SABC) interventions, community theater is being used to address water fee payment practices and treatment and storage of water for household consumption. Local entrepreneurs in the area of sanitation provide services to the community related to the installation of toilets. All this contributes to the sustainability of the new water system.

Community members in Bocana de Greytown help dig the trench for the pipeline system. Photo: Pablo Valle, 2019 (WaterAid)

"One of our priorities is to provide people with the resources they need to maintain their water systems for the long term," says Germana Fajardo, country manager, WaterAid. "By working with local people and the regional government, we help reduce the exclusion of these indigenous communities in Nicaragua."

More than one million people do not have access to safe water in Nicaragua. The Autonomous Region of the Northern Caribbean Coast has one of the highest poverty rates in the country: almost 68% of the rural population lives on less than USD1 per day. One of the main barriers to progress is insufficient access to safe water and sanitation. Women and children are often the most affected, as they are responsible for collecting water several times a day, which often involves walking long distances, missing out on education and income-generating opportunities.

Cover photo: Construction of a water storage system in the Leymus Kukalaya community. Photo: Pablo Valle, 2019 (WaterAid).

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