people in Nicaragua don't have access to safe water.

Over 2.8 million people don't have access to adequate sanitation in Nicaragua, nearly half of the population.

Around 300 children in Nicaragua die each year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.

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. In some rural areas 80% of people live without safe drinking water.

The crisis

Years of insufficient public investment following the upheaval and devastation of war and natural disasters, contamination from mining and agricultural activities and extensive cattle ranching causing deforestation and soil erosion, have left many people without safe water. Similarly, nearly half the country's population lives without an adequate toilet.

Water-related 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.

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. Just one in five of the 314,000-strong population has access to safe water and 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:

  • 1,965 people with safe water
  • 1,168 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.

Program evaluation

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WaterAid Nicaragua Evaluation Thumbnail In November 2014, two independent consultants and a member of WaterAid UK’s Program Support Unit conducted an evaluation of the Nicaragua program to assess its relevance, effectiveness, and technical excellence. The evaluators spent three weeks consulting key local and national stakeholders and institutions on sector challenges and visiting WaterAid supported projects. This briefing note summarizes the evaluation team’s findings and recommendations.

Download WaterAid Nicaragua program evaluation > (PDF 2MB)