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FEATURE STORY

In Nicaragua, rural communities obtain visible results in access to water and sanitation

January 22, 2013

Jaqueline Bello disfruta de la nueva conexión de agua que la comunidad instaló en su hogar.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New infrastructure improves access to water in more than 180 rural communities while new coverage will include other 42 locations
  • Thanks to Water and Sanitation Committees, many led by women, more than 1 million Nicaraguans have improved water supply
  • However, there are disparities in terms of urban and rural access to sanitation

It is almost five o’clock in the afternoon and the night falls over the neighbor of San Francisco-Los Horconcitos in Rivas, Nicaragua. Except from the light coming out from some houses, the streets are dark. Jaqueline Bello, one of the neighbors, is watching TV while cooking dinner and waiting her turn to use the shower.

Her ritual now is very different than a few months ago. "I used to go every day at this time to my mom’s, about 400 meters from here, to get water and use her bathroom," she recalls. Jaqueline's home is one of the 125 houses in this rural town that now have water hookups. Something that until recently was very unusual in the area.

"The families are happy because they have sinks, showers and toilets" explains Angela Durand, a neighbor who coordinates the local Water and Sanitation Committee (CAPS, in Spanish). This committee is one of the 5,200 community-driven organizations that manage and operate water systems in rural areas and currently serve more than 1 million people in Nicaragua.

In San Francisco-Los Horconcitos, 445 people have now access to water and sanitation services due to the installation of plumbing and bathrooms, including 45 ecological latrines.

Besides the work the Committee has done in the neighborhood, Angela is proud that the organization includes and respects local women. "Women are organized and have capabilities to manage projects and communities as well as their homes" she says.

Open Quotes

Las familias de la comunidad están contentas porque tienen lavamanos, duchas e inodoros con palanca Close Quotes

Ángela Durand
Coordinadora del Comité de Agua Potable y Saneamiento (CAPS)

More communities with access to water

With support from the World Bank through the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project (PRASNICA) more than 180 communities have now small wells, improved pumps, water tanks, aqueducts, household connections and local sanitation.

The US$20 million project has been under implementation since June 2008 and in January 2013 an additional US$6 million in funds were approved for the project. This will allow an additional 42 rural and indigenous communities in Nicaragua to have access to water. And so, people will be able to do household chores without traveling great distances to find water.

"Our interest is to continue to support this project because it has visible results. Also, infrastructure goes hand in hand with social awareness programs that emphasize the importance of hygiene, water conservation and sustainability," said Camille Nuamah, World Bank Country Manager for  Nicaragua.

The rural Pacific area, the Atlantic coast, and the communities of Alto Wangki and Bocay in Jinotega, will also get expanded coverage of water services, with the construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure and the installation of latrines or septic tanks.

"We face the challenge of measuring improvements in terms of access to water and sanitation, as well as having a sustainable impact in the communities," adds Nuamah.

Although Nicaragua has made great progress in access to drinking water, there are still disparities between urban and rural areas. It is estimated that only 37%of rural population has sanitation services - compared to 63%in cities.

According to recent studies, the negative effects of lack of water and sanitation result in a loss of 0.9 percent of the country’s GDP, affecting sectors such as health, education and productivity.