Nicaragua
Capital:
Managua
Population:
6.1 million
Area:
130,375
km2

APRIL 2020 UPDATE—In Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the Americas, WaterAid’s work has taken on renewed urgency in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Most people have no choice but to continue working during the pandemic in order to survive. This makes frequent handwashing with soap and clean water even more important, especially among indigenous communities which depend on the sale of fish and produce at public markets.”
—Germana Fajardo, WaterAid Nicaragua

Preventing needless deaths because of the exponential spread of COVID-19 is impossible without clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene. That’s why we have scaled up our efforts in more than 30 countries, including Nicaragua.

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Our team is responding by:

  • Installing public handwashing stations, prioritizing already vulnerable indigenous populations and reaching as many as 8,500 people daily in health care facilities and public gathering points such as transit hubs and farmer’s markets.
  • Developing communications messages to reach as many as 186,000 people in both urban and rural areas with key hygiene messages in their mother tongue.

You can help. Please make an immediate donation to support our work.

Nicaragua Dispatch from the Field
A lack of testing in Nicaragua may underestimate the toll of COVID-19 with just nine cases and one death reported since March 19. The government has officially shunned taking any measures to promote isolation or social distancing and has declared that COVID-19 has been contained.

“The health care system and public transit are key places where people gather and they are poorly equipped prevent of the spread of COVID-19. There is a lack of handwashing facilities with soap and water. Behavior change with respect to proper and frequent handwashing is key to protecting the population.”
—Javier Flores, WaterAid Nicaragua

The solution is simple. When communities, schools and hospitals have access to soap and clean water we can dramatically reduce the spread of infections. This saves lives. Washing with soap cuts sick days in half and teaches lifelong healthy habits.

We’ve been working to provide and advocate for clean water, sanitation and hygiene around the world for four decades. Last year, with your support, we reached nearly one million people worldwide at least three times with hygiene training. This is lasting behavior change, at scale.

Please make an immediate donation to support our work. Your gift will help us reach people in Nicaragua and around the world affected by Coronavirus.

A girl washes her hands in Nicaragua
WaterAid/ Fermín López

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.

The water crisis in Nicaragua in more detail

As a result of this challenging situation, over one 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 don't have a decent toilet.

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

people currently live without clean water.

That's almost 1 in every 5 people.

people live below the poverty line.

That's 1.8 million people.

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Plumbing vs. Gangs

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

Read the full story
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."

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