6.1 million

Known as 'the land of lakes and volcanoes', water shapes the geography and rich biodiversity of Nicaragua. But exploitation of the country's natural resources has resulted in contamination from mining and farming, and soil erosion from deforestation.

The country's long rainy season and large lakes make for ample freshwater sources, but much of the water is inaccessible and unsafe to drink. To make matters worse, natural disasters and conflict have devastated public services and reduced investment.

As a result, over a million people still don't have clean water and one in four people don't have a decent toilet.

The North Atlantic Autonomous region, located on the Caribbean coast, is one of Nicaragua's most isolated areas. Extreme poverty and violent crime are widespread. The road to reaching everyone here is steep, but we have already begun to make a difference.

Since 2011, we have helped to make clean water and decent toilets a normal part of daily life for communities here. We train local people to install and maintain pumps and wells, rainwater catchment systems and composting toilets in schools and homes. And we help map access to water and toilets, so as to identify those most in need. 

With continued innovation and investment, we will make a lasting impact on the lives of even more communities. Together, we can reach everyone in Nicaragua.

people currently live without clean water.

That's almost 1 in every 5 people.

people don't have a decent toilet.

That's 1 in every 4 people living without this essential.

people live below the poverty line.

That's 1.8 million people.

Plumbing vs. Gangs

Teenagers are leaving behind violence to build decent toilets for their community.

Read the full story
Image: Jordi Ruiz Cirera
I felt good, happy because I was building a toilet in the house and I knew that I would not have to go outside to the latrine.
Bessy, 16 - Bilwi

Water supplies in Bilwi are poor. Installing good quality pumps and toilets is expensive and many of those who want to do it have to take out a loan.

That's why we work with local organisations on a micro-finance and training scheme. One of our partners, Pana Pana, reviews the loan applications, and the successful borrowers pay them back at low interest. The installation is then carried out by supervised teenagers who have completed a plumbing course with our other local partner AMEC.

The young people who take the course tend to come from neighbourhoods where opportunities are limited. They've usually been identified as 'at risk' by the local police and have had some involvement with gangs and petty crime.

As well as receiving technical training, the students learn how to set up their own plumbing businesses, and take part in counselling sessions with a psychologist to address some of the social problems they face. "There has been a change in my self-confidence, self-esteem," says Bessy, an AMEC alumni. "If others in the neighbourhood received the same training, the same intervention, maybe that would help them."

Ready to make a difference? Just a small gift can help change someone's life.

Get involved, your way

Join an event, fundraise with friends or find your own way to transform lives.

Give an unforgettable gift

We've got the perfect presents for every occasion in our Gifts for Life shop.