The majority of schools in Nicaragua do not have potable water or adequate toilet facilities, so many students drink contaminated water in schools or lack sufficient quantities of water for drinking. Hand washing before the school lunch and after using toilets, if there are any, cannot be practiced. Most schools do not meet the minimum government standards and lack child-friendly facilities. Lack of adequate facilities causes numerous health hazards among adolescent girls and women. The lost opportunity of providing adequate school water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions and training in schools affects entire communities over the long term.
Water For People–Nicaragua, together with municipal government partners, works to strengthen community water committees.
Building upon learning the very strong SWASH+ programs that Water For People has implemented in Honduras and Guatemala, Water For People–Nicaragua will implement programming to improve school water, sanitation, and hygiene. Parent-teacher associations are trained to maintain the infrastructure, and teachers are trained to lead the hygiene education process, which increases the probability of replication in schools in future years.
The elimination of the rural aqueducts department of the national water agency in 2007 left rural Nicaraguan communities without any support for management of their potable water systems. In rural areas of Nicaragua most water systems are managed by community water committees (CAPs). CAPs gained legal status in Nicaragua in 2010, which among other things, allowed them to begin to legally charge tariffs, be exempt from taxes, open bank accounts, contract services, and obtain land titles of water sources and system infrastructure sites. Unfortunately, however, most systems today do not provide an adequate level of service, or they do not connect all households.
Strengthened CAPs are vital to improving the administration, operation, and maintenance of water systems in rural Nicaragua, so Water For People–Nicaragua, together with municipal government partners, will dedicate significant time and resources to strengthening them. CAPs will be trained on topics such as tariff calculation and collection, administration, regulation, water quality and treatment, watershed protection, gender equity, and system operation, maintenance, and monitoring. Water For People–Nicaragua will also promote the formation of associations of municipalities to provide additional support for CAPs.
Not so many decades ago, San Rafael and La Concordia were covered with impressive forests, but over time they have slowly been disappearing because of unsustainable forestry activities and deforestation for agricultural activities. This development, along with other factors, including climate change, has resulted in a reduction of water production at springs in the area.
Water For People–Nicaragua and municipal government officials are investigating protection and conservation measures and developing a comprehensive Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) strategy. This will ensure sustainability of water resources, and their availability for consumption and domestic use, agricultural production, and the natural environment for generations to come. Community water and sanitation committees are being trained to legally and physically protect recharge zones of water sources, including natural regeneration, reforestation, and other best practices to promote infiltration of rainwater.