Spring Catchment System, Nicaragua
Esperanza Village, Nicaragua
Esperanza Village is a remote community with 25 families (125 people) dispersed throughout a forested and mountainous region. It is located in themunicipality of Rio Blanco, which is approximately a four hour drive from the capital, Managua. To reach the community from Rio Blanco, one must drive one hour on a dirt road and travel by horseback or foot to travel throughout the community. The Esperanza Village Project consisted of the construction of a spring catchment system and 25 latrines, each located at a home site. The community provided all the labor to construct the facilities and a local organization purchased all the materials and will provide all long-term follow-up. for the project.
The social norms in this community are very traditional. The women and children carry water two or three times a day for the various domestic chores, cooking and cleaning, while the men take charge of the farming, bringing the firewood, etc. The typical level of education of community members is sixth grade.
Training was provided to the community to maintain the water storage tanks, distribution system and latrines in good condition and applying any minor repairs that are necessary. In addition, a health education program was established, instructing on health prevention, hygienic use of water and a latrine. Lastly, native trees were planted near the watershed area and community members learned about environmental health and reforestation.
Prior to this project, villagers either had a hand dug well or walked to nearby streams to use the water for drinking, bathing and cooking. During the dry periods (February, March and April), the wells would dry up, requiring those that had wells to walk to look for water.
It is women and children who are responsible for locating and transporting water. Fulfilling this daily responsibility often leaves little or no time for women to pursue developmental opportunities and for the young to get an education – and so poverty continues. All of the home sites had simple structures acting as their latrine, however, after a preliminary assessment, we found that only three latrines were in average condition and functioning.
The Spring Catchment System consisted of two parts, including, connection from the spring to a water storage tank, and the distribution to 25 homes dispersed throughout the mountainous community. For this project, the construction of a spring box to contain the spring was not required because an adjacent community, La Isla, had already contained a spring and agreed to share the water with the Esperanza community. The connection from the spring box to a water storage tank used 1,196 meters of piping and took one month to finish. The volume of the water storage tank is 5,700 liters and is 2m x 2m in size. The photo above shows villagers holding a banner in front of the blue water storage tank. From the water storage tank, 8,744 meters of piping was used to distribute the water to 25 homes.
Because of this project, everyone now has a tap and a latrine at their home site. Clean water will make this community healthier, especially effecting young children who are most susceptible to illness due to their fragile immune systems. Women and children have time to pursue other things with their spare time, including education or working opportunities. Due to the training that was provided to the community, everyone now knows how to maintain the water system and latrines to remain in good condition.