Improve the quality of life of people and families in Nicaragua through lower incidences of water and sanitation-related diseases and mortality
Reduce environmental contamination caused by poor sanitation
Improve productivity and educational opportunity for women and children by freeing time previously spent carrying water
Improve people's quality of life through basic human dignity
Protect the water tables the water projects draw from
Improve water quality and quantity
Restore streamflow, critical habitat, and productive agriculture
Teach people about co-existing in harmony with their local environment and how to use existing resources sustainably
Improve the quality of women and children's lives and health through the construction of improved stoves that remove hazardous smoke from the kitchens
Educate community members about the connection between hygiene, water, sanitation, and disease
Train network of community-based hygiene promoters to reinforce hygiene concepts on an ongoing basis
Where we work, villagers obtain their drinking water from shallow, unlined, and uncovered hand-dug wells or open springs, often far from their homes. Our water projects include hand-dug wells, drilled wells, gravity flow systems, electric pump water systems, and water quality testing.
Only 37% of rural Nicaraguans have sanitation facilities. Our sanitation projects include household double pit latrines, community wash stations, and school hand washing stations.
Household double pit latrines: This system is sustainable as a family can cycle through the two ventilated pits. By the time one is full, the second one is safe to empty out. In certain situations, we also partner with families to build pour flush latrines and composting latrines.
Community wash stations: Women in rural Nicaragua typically wash their family's clothes on rocks in streams -- they bathe there, too. Community wash stations are clean, concrete facilities where women can wash clothes without having to carry water or clothes long distances. They also include 2 or 3 shower stalls where people can bathe in privacy -- a true luxury for rural people. Washing clothes and bathing with clean water also reduces the incidences of skin infections.
School hand washing stations: Children who attend schools with latrines and hand washing stations are 20-30% less likely to miss school than children who attend schools without these amenities (CARE). In each schoolyard, the hand washing station is situated between classrooms and the latrines so students see it and remember the importance of washing their hands.
Micro-watershed restoration: Villagers plant nurseries and then transplant the seedlings to places where the trees will grow. Our reforestation workers follow up to ensure survival of the seedlings, and teach villagers how to collect seeds, and store them for next year's nursery planting.
Watershed restoration: Villagers learn about agroforestry, intentionally integrating trees with livestock and crops to create a sustainable land-use system. By doing this, villagers rejuvenate damaged cropland and pastureland while restoring streamflow, increasing rainwater absorption, recharging groundwater sources, and reducing soil erosion.
Fuel-efficient, vented stoves: Indoor air pollution by traditional, smoky, wood-burning stoves is as detrimental to health as smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day. Families that have been very active in their local reforestation program are eligible to construct fuel-efficient stoves in their homes, which use 60% less firewood and eliminate indoor smoke.
This is the key to our success; through this program, the community learns how to reduce water and sanitation-related illness through good hygiene practices. El Porvenir Health Educators teach communities how to maintain their projects through community workshops and household visits. They also identify and train local hygiene and health promoters and ensure a Potable Water Committee has been formed. This committee is responsible for organizing ongoing maintenance.
Photos courtesy of Forest Woodward, Jon Polka, Nile Sprague, RippleEffectImages.org, and El Porvenir staff