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Patastillal Region, Nicaragua

In Nicaragua, as in many other countries, the lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation is associated with high incidence of childhood diseases like diarrhea and malnutrition, generating high child and infant mortality rates. On average, only about 25% of Nicaraguan families have access to safe water and only a third to sanitary facilities. This lack of basic services continues to structurally reinforce poverty and a lower quality of life, contributing to both social and economic underdevelopment, since communities with quality basic services have more opportunities to develop through attracting investment, industry, and tourism.

Patastillal is an impoverished rural community in the remote municipality of Pantasma in the department of Jinotega. Over 150 miles away from Nicaragua’s capital of Managua, Patastillal is extremely isolated, only accessible by unpaved tertiary roads. To collect water for their homes, women and children used to walk for an hour to unprotected, non-potable water sources in rivers and streams, often collecting water several times each day. The community of Patastillal, with 510 inhabitants, demonstrated both urgent need for water and sanitation as well as a tremendous eagerness to engage in a program and contribute time and materials to the process.

In addition to other funds raised by PCI, direct contributions by Nika and PCI/Nika’s multiple Walk for Water events benefitted the Mejorando Agua y Saneamiento en Patastillal / Improving Water and Sanitation in Patastillal (MASAPA) Project. Specifically, the project planned on building a water system with water points serving 102 family households, the community school and health post. Also, a total of 27 sanitary latrines were to be constructed in the community. Work to aid people living in rural community of Patastillal was completed in February 2010.

Overall, the project provided safe drinking water and improved sanitation and hygiene practices to a total of 546 beneficiaries in Patastillal, surpassing the initial target. A total 72 family households have water connections to their homes and 52 homes received latrines.

There were three key project activities implemented under the MASAPA project: Local organization and education, construction of a water system, and construction of sanitary latrines. Like most of the projects that Nika is involved in, through our NGO partners, the MASAPA project began by signing an agreement with municipal authorities, under which the municipality made a commitment to provide resources and assign staff to work in the project. This included a Water and Sanitation Committee responsible for understanding and educating others on all operations, installations, and repairs of construction, as well as data recovered from new instruments. The community also agreed that a fee would be charged to each beneficiary household for the water they consume, in order to have resources to maintain the water system for the future. This fee system, as well as the community-led process to arrive at it, represents an important milestone both for the success of the project and the future sustainability of the water system.

Starting with a number of pre-construction assessments, including 2 tests to measure the quality of water at each water source, and 21 technical surveys and measurements conducted to determine the best design and pipeline route for the water system, the construction of this gravity-fed water system began. Two water catchment tanks at the water sources were built and attached to 1,644 meters of main distribution pipelines. In addition, another 6,884 meters of home distribution pipelines were installed. Between the source and the destination of the water supply, a 8,500 gallon water storage tank was completed with a built in chlorination system. The final result being 72 home connections installed, including water gauges to measure consumption, and 3 public water stands built, 2 at the local school and 1 at the health post.

During implementation of latrine construction activities, PCI was able to secure additional support from the municipality and community members to rehabilitate a total of 29 latrines in addition to the 27 new latrines that were originally planned for the project, making it a total of 58 new or rehabilitated latrines that were provided by the MASAPA project.