1.1 million people in Nicaragua do not have clean water.

1.4 million people in Nicaragua do not have a decent toilet.

27% of the population in Nicaragua live below the poverty line.

Known as the "Land of lakes and volcanoes", Nicaragua has abundant sources of freshwater, but little of it is safe to drink or readily accessible.

The crisis

Years of insufficient public investment following war and natural disasters, together with contamination from mining and agricultural activities, and deforestation and soil erosion caused by extensive cattle ranching, have left 1.1 million people without clean drinking water.

What’s more, 1.4 million people don't have access to decent toilets in Nicaragua, a third of the population.

The resulting diseases exact a huge toll on families' health, keeping children out of school and stifling economic growth. The exhausting task of water collection usually falls to women and girls, who have little time left for work or school. Over 100 children in Nicaragua die each year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water, a lack of toilets and poor hygiene.

Our approach

WaterAid's Nicaragua program opened in 2011. We work in the North Atlantic Autonomous region on the Caribbean Coast; a remote, isolated region of mainly indigenous and afro-descendent people with an annual population growth rate of more than 4%, the highest in the country. Almost half of the 6 million strong population has no access to sanitation and extreme poverty is widespread.

We are helping improve and expand water and sanitation services in the region by training local people to install and maintain rope pumps (a simple type of water pump), install eco-toilets (a type of pour-flush latrine), drill manual borehole wells, clean and disinfect existing hand-dug wells, and install rainwater catchment systems.

To identify the communities most in need of assistance, we are helping them in mapping current access to water and sanitation. Our help is focused on establishing water and sanitation facilities in schools as well as households.

In Nicaragua last year we reached:

  • 2,000 people with clean water
  • 1,000 people with improved sanitation.

Watch this short film to find out more:

Three children carrying water containers on their heads or shoulders, whilst wading through water.