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Agua Para La Vida

5464 Shafter Avenue

Oakland, CA 94618

(510) 643-8003

School’s Starting August 2000

After an 18 month hiatus, the APLV technical school is starting up again with six new students. One of our goals this round was to include women in the training and we are happy to report that our new class consists of three women and three men. Although Nicaragua has made some advances in terms of gender issues, it is still uncommon to find women in technical careers. We received nearly 30 applications for admission to the program without an enormous amount of advertising- an indication that people find the school valuable.

Mathieu Le Corre will be the main instructor. Mathieu joined the APLV team last November and has been providing technical support in Rio Blanco. He has experience with a French NGO (GRET) working in Mauritania and speaks fluent French, Spanish and English. We are excited to have him aboard. He writes:

Working on a smaller scale is a great experience for me as it has allowed me to see practical detail I was unaware of- both on the pure engineering side and on the organisational side . On a personal level this type of work is fulfilling as there is a sense of being part of a down-to-earth construction effort. Apart from that there is the thundering of rain on our tin roof, a glow worm scrambling along my mosquito net, the Musun mountain in the mist and the frog that lives under our sink.

Three Projects Underway

Construction is taking place in three APLV water projects: Santa Rita, La Isla, and Quatro Esquinas. Santa Rita, population 1500, is the largest project APLV has ever taken on. The project management issues in a large community are significant, but the community has made significant progress. La Isla and Quatro Esquinas are more typical projects, with about 25-30 families each. We have received a substantial private donation to sponsor the work in La Isla, which involves bringing water from high on the Musun mountain slope down to a deep valley and then back up the other side to the village. Quatro Esquinas is a more remote town and passage by truck is impossible now that the rains have started. Much of the material will be brought in by mules and horses.

Health and Nutrition Program Update

by Lilliam Obando and Gregoria Espinoza

We have continued working on preventive health. We are satisfied because we have seen the fruit of the work we have done: statistically we have noted a fall in the number of diarrhoeas and in the past two years there have been no deaths of cholera in the communities we work in.

We have observed hygiene habit changes in the villagers for instance: there are more clean patios and covered water containers now than there were. Obviously the change hasn’t touched 100 % of the families, we know it is a long winded process. That is why a great deal of our effort is concentrated on children, if we can change their habits the results will be much better in the future.

The basic methodology we use both with children and adults is to bring about participation. To do this we mix singing, stories, drama as well as presentations, this makes understanding the material we want to share easier.

Here’s one of the songs we use to motivate children and adults during our sessions (it is presented here both in Spanish and in English):

Allá en el Rancho Limpio

(Música original Allá en el rancho grande)

En mi comunidad, allá donde yo vivo

recojo la basura, recojo la basura

después la enterramos

para evitar los ratones las cucarachas y moscas

Nos integramos al trabajo, en jornadas de limpieza

para no enfermarnos.

En mi comunidad allá donde yo vivo

estamos trabando, estamos trabando

para que este aseada

vamos hacer unos desagües para que corra el agua

así se secan los charcos y evitamos zancudos

allá donde yo vivo.

Out There on the Clean Ranch

(Music from Allá en el rancho grande)

In my community, out there where I live

I pick up the rubbish, pick up the rubbish

Then we burry it

To avoid mice, cockroaches and flies

We all take part in the work, in cleaning days

So that we don’t get ill

In my community, out there where I live

We are working, we are working

To make it clean

We are going to build drains so that the water runs

Then the ponds will dry and we avoid mosquitoes

Out there where I live


Muchas saludes,

Lilliam Obando y Gregoria Espinoza

First Impressions of APLV

RJ Bunnel and Lee Addams are two Stanford students who recently took a trip down to Nicaragua to see APLV’s operation first-hand. Here is what RJ had to say:

My friend Lee Addams and I have spent a considerable amount of time searching for opportunities to get involved in water development projects. That is why we are so excited to have come across Agua Para la Vida. Lee is a hydrogeology graduate student and I am a recent graduate with a BS degree in water resource engineering. Both of us think water is some pretty interesting and indispensable stuff. Clean water is vitally important to a healthy life and we both hope to employ our education in bringing this most precious of resources to the people who need it most. A.P.L.V. is doing just this in a novel and effective way.

We recently had the opportunity to observe some of A.P.L.V.'s operations in the Rio Blanco area of central Nicaragua. The trip was quite an adventure and also a great chance for us to see firsthand how A.P.L.V. is working to better the lives of the people in rural Nicaragua. The following are a few thoughts on two noteworthy aspects of the A.P.L.V. program that we observed.

One thing that we discovered about the Agua Para la Vida operation in Nicaragua is that it is working to make itself unnecessary by giving communities the knowledge and leadership they need to help themselves. Through a small technical school in Rio Blanco, A.P.L.V. trains members of local communities to design and lead the construction of the various water systems that they fund. The group also trains community organizers to aid in gathering the people of a village together to complete the construction of their own water system. We were able to meet and observe the very capable and dedicated local leadership of such a project in a remote town called Santa Rita, Nicaragua's version of the Wild West. Instead of bringing in outside labor to complete the project, A.P.L.V. is providing the community with the material and skilled leadership that they need to build their very own water capture and distribution system. This emphasis on grassroots organization and self-empowerment serves to give the community a sense of unity, pride, and accomplishment in building their own safe water supply. We noticed a great camaraderie at the Santa Rita project that probably wouldn't have existed in a group that wasn't locally organized and led.

We also observed that Agua Para la Vida employs a unique 'big picture' approach that is crucial to ensuring that their water projects make the greatest possible contributions to the overall health of the communities they serve. The group not only captures the output of local springs to feed the distribution systems, but also organizes the community to buy and protect as much of the watershed as possible so that the springs will stay clean and viable for years to come. Reforestation of the community owned watersheds is also an important element in this effort. Planting trees makes sure that the spring's output is sufficient during the long dry season, and has added environmental benefits in a zone who's tropical forests have suffered almost total devastation at the hand of subsistence agriculture and grazing. We observed several forested and protected watersheds or 'cuencas' that were a stark contrast to the barren and sporadically charred hillsides that surrounded them for miles in every direction.

A.P.L.V. also has two wonderful community health educators, Liliam and Gregoria, who spend ours travelling by bus and by foot to make sure that every person that will be served by the new water systems has at least rudimentary knowledge of personal hygiene. Additionally, latrines are required for all the households that are to be connected to the new water distribution systems. A.P.L.V. is very aware of the fact that clean water doesn't do any good if it is contaminated at the point of consumption. The public health and health education program is expanding and is a wonderful and necessary compliment to the engineering work being done by A.P.L.V.

Lee and I left Nicaragua with an increased consciousness of the enormous amount of work to be done in the developing world if the people there are to raise their standard of living in a sustainable manner. We also left encouraged that there are groups like A.P.L.V. that are addressing the most pressing needs of the underserved people in Nicaragua in a very direct and community empowering way. We hope to remain involved with A.P.L.V. and do all we can to increase its capacity to touch lives and improve public health in the developing world. We hope that you will too.


Thanks once again for your on-going support!

Peace and Good Health,






Charlie Huizenga Gilles Corcos









Agua Para La Vida

5464 Shafter Avenue

Oakland, CA 94618













q $25 Material cost for drinking water for one person
q $50 Material cost of 500 seedlings for reforestation
q $100 Material cost of a latrine for a family
q $200 Sponsorship for one APLV technical student for one month
q $300 Material cost for drinking water for an entire family
q Other    
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