Agua Para La Vida
823 Cornell Avenue
Albany, CA 94706
Newsletter July 1997
At the beginning of 1996, Agua Para La Vida initiated important changes by creating a regional water center in Rio Blanco, Nicaragua. Run by Nicaraguans, the center works with poor, rural communities to design and build drinking water systems, promote hygiene education, and protect the watersheds on which the communities depend for their water. A small technical School, ETAP (Escuela Tecnica de Agua Potable) was created to train local people how to design and build gravity flow drinking water systems and through the support of the Conservation Food and Health Foundation, a professional staff was hired to address the issues of hygiene and watershed conservation. Additional funding for the watershed conservation program has been provided by the Canadian Consulate through a program designed to help Nicaragua repay its foreign debt.
Proyecto Agua Para La Vida, Rio Blanco is found in a little municipal building attached to the town-hall. It has two smallish rooms which house an office and a class-room. Before the day starts one can witness energetic brooming and dusting by one of the students. Some days most of the students and staff are far away working in communities which are the sites of our projects. Other days every one is there planning, writing reports or attending the technical classes which are part of the training curriculum of the school.
By now the group, which includes a program director, two hygiene workers, a conservation and reforestation specialist, a classroom teacher, a community organizer, five students-technicians and a mason, is closely knit and functions smoothly. With the exception of Josh Briemberg, our Canadian teacher, all are Nicaraguans from the region.
The good spirits which are evident in the team derive in part from its substantial accomplishments. During its first year of operation, the group initiated and completed three drinking water systems which together provide water for more than 2000 persons. Caño de Agua, a small project northeast of Rio Blanco was completed in the Spring of 1996. Wasayamba, also northeast of Rio Blanco, was completed in December. This project provides ample and safe water to a population of 750 persons by means of a faucet per house. Linda Vista, perhaps the most cost-effective project in Agua Para La Vidas ten year history, provides water through public water stands to more than 200 families within a barrio (neighborhood) of Rio Blanco itself. This barrio is made up of thatch and bamboo shacks and populated mostly by refugees from villages overrun by "rearmados", outlaws who have taken up arms and roam the countryside.
The hygiene and watershed conservation work is being undertaken not only in the new communities with which we are working, but also in the communities APLV has worked with in the past. In Wasayamba for instance, APLV made it possible for the beneficiaries to acquire 35 acres of their and is helping them protect and reforest it.
In addition to last years three completed projects, the group has also undertaken technical studies of 11 potential projects. Although the budget is extremely tight, the group operates very professionally: the project drawings are neatly kept, there are easily accessible files, and reports are written using the two project computers. This is all the more striking since of the five students presently enrolled only one has completed high-school. Field and design work take up 2/3 to 3/4 of the time and class room instruction the rest.
Thanks Beth and Eddy!
Beth Doglio, a community organizer from Seattle, has been a volunteer with APLV for the past five months working with Liliam and Gregoria in the hygiene education program while her husband Eddy has been working at the Rio Blanco health clinic. They are heading back to Seattle and we wish them the best of luck. Thanks for the great work!
Plans for this year
By now APLV is well known throughout the 2000 square kilometers which comprise the zone of Rio Blanco and the demand for our services is brisk. We have three more water projects planned for this year: Copalar, Wanawas and Sarawas. The people of these communities will as usual provide most of the labor, digging the long trenches, gluing the PVC pipes, filling the trenches and carrying out all the other tasks which do not require special skills. Before the work can start, an intense period of preparation is necessary within the village. It is a time used to organize the community, secure the necessary agreements (with the community, with the owner of the spring and of the watershed, and for the pipe easements) as well as to put in place the logistics of material procurement. Meanwhile, Liliam and Gregoria are gathering health statistics so we can try to assess the impact of the safe water and hygiene program.
Water for People Sponsorship.
This year we continue to receive generous support from Water for People (WFP). The Chesapeake Section Committee with support from the national WFP office has raised $14,377 toward the Wanawas project. This generous contribution will fund the material costs for the drinking water system. Each section of Water for People does its own fundraising and decides what projects it will sponsor. A hearty round of thanks go to them for their fundraising efforts.
We have started a new program to find sponsors for our technical students. Sponsors will fund the stipend for an individual student and the student will in turn provide regular reports on their work and progress. We are very pleased that the South Carolina Section of Water for People has become the first participant in this program by sponsoring Reynaldo José Diaz Orosco for a six month period. We are still looking for other sponsors to join in this program.
Water for People is organizing a visit to Nicaragua this Fall and will visit the school in Rio Blanco and some of APLVs projects. We are very excited to have them visit us. We welcome anyone interested in visiting us in Nicaragua- we have a small house in Rio Blanco that always has a spare hammock or two!
Over the last two years PRODERBO, a regional development project financed by the European Community, has been a major contributor to APLV projects. They are in the process of finishing up their work in Rio Blanco and will be phasing out over the next year or two. This coupled with our growth over the past two years means that our need for financial contributions has never been greater. Water for People and the Conservation Food and Health Foundation continue to be strong supporters, but we will need to expand our sources of support. Traditionally, APLV has relied on the generosity of our many individual donors who have faithfully supported us over the years and who are truly our partners in this work. We greatly appreciate this support. If you know of others who would be willing to join the APLV family and help bring clean water to the overwhelming number of rural Nicaraguans who are still in need, please have them contact us or send us their names and addresses. APLV-California absorbs all the costs of its own operation so that all contributions go directly to Rio Blanco.
Expanding the Board
APLV is in the process of expanding its Board of Directors. If you are interested in participating or know of somebody who is, please get in touch with us!
Agua Para La Vida
823 Cornell Avenue
Albany, CA 94706
Please add the following person to the APLV mailing list
I would like to support APLV in bringing clean drinking water to the people of Nicaragua. Enclosed is my tax deductible contribution of
|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||$200||Material cost for drinking water for an entire family|