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Agua Para La Vida

823 Cornell Avenue

Albany, CA 94706

(510) 643-8003

Newsletter October 1996

Its been a while since we’ve been in touch and there is a lot to catch up on!

Over the past year we have concentrated our efforts on developing a water center for rural communities in the region of Rio Blanco, Nicaragua. It has been a year full of changes and we are very excited about them.

We believe strongly that the development of drinking water in Nicaragua cannot forever depend on the sustained availability and interest of foreign technicians. Our objective is not merely to assist the communities build their water systems but also to help the region develop the human resources it needs to become self sufficient in this undertaking.

In January we hired Juan Carlos Araúz as our technical director. Juan Carlos, a 28 year-old native of San Dionisio, Nicaragua was trained in a program (TAR) which in some respects serves as a model for ours. He has designed and overseen the construction of a number of high quality water systems and served as the technical director of the San Dionisio TAR program. In January 1996 he began working with APLV, and great things have been happening ever since.

Shortly thereafter we began our small technical school in Rio Blanco called ETAP (Escuela Tecnica de Agua Potable, or Technical School for Drinking Water). The school is intended to provide local people the technical skills required to carry out successful drinking water projects. The curriculum is meant to cover all the elements necessary to cover the technical aspects of drinking water projects: technical feasibility, studies, surveying, design, budgeting, purchase arrangements, logistics of material delivery, work scheduling, inventory control, maintenance education, report writing, plans and even the solicitation of financial support. The mayor of Rio Blanco has provided us with a classroom and a small office adjacent to "city hall" (use your imagination!) and is very interested in working with us in the region.

Susan Southerwood, Charlie Huizenga and Gilles Corcos rotated through as interim instructors while we searched in Nicaragua for a full-time teacher. After a few months without finding anybody to fill the position, we decided to broaden our search outside of Nicaragua. We were fortunate to come across Josh Briemberg, a Canadian who has spent considerable time in Nicaragua including two years working with INAA, the Nicaraguan water ministry. Josh started in June, and while his main responsibility is in curriculum development and teaching, he is heavily involved in all aspects of the project and provides significant support for Juan Carlos.

We are receiving substantial support from PRODERBO, the European Community-financed development organization based in Rio Blanco that we have worked with in the past. In spite of the fact that our contract with PRODERBO was not concluded until April, we will complete three projects this year: Wasayamba, Caño de Agua and Linda Vista. Linda Vista, more commonly known as Wilikito, is our first urban barrio project and the population served is at least 1000, which makes it the largest community we have helped to date. The people of Linda Vista are almost all refugees from the community of Wilikito who were displaced due to "recontra" (Contra guerrillas who returned to the region after the war) terrorism.

Conservation, Food and Health Foundation Grant

We received a one-year, $12,000 grant from the Conservation, Food and Health Foundation for hygiene education and watershed protection. We hired two Nicaraguans to carry out this work and the project has been going quite well. They have been working in communities where we have completed projects, and as water projects are being planned and implemented in new communities, these are being added to the targeted villages for hygiene and watershed conservation work.

Liliam Obando, responsible for the community hygiene education program, has been working in ten communities with technical assistance from ADIC (our Nicaraguan partner organization for the hygiene program) to establish baseline health data and to train local health workers. Next year a volunteer couple from the U.S., Edward Cates and Beth Doglio will be going to Rio Blanco to assist Liliam in the communities. They will be providing for their own expenses and work for a period of about six months. In addition to working with Liliam, they hope to assist the overworked MINSA (Ministry of Health ) doctor with primary care in the same villages.

Pedro Martinez has been implementing the watershed protection program in seven communities, and we are very excited about the progress he and the communities have made over the first eight months of the program. To date he has organized tree nurseries in six of seven communities and has been working hard to acquire land in the immediate region of the springs. This is very important work and we feel that the program is turning out to be a big success.


Nicaraguan Elections

Nicaragua held national elections this month. The presidential race was between Daniel Ortega, the former Sandinista president, and Arnoldo Alemán of the Liberal Alliance party. Alemán won the election with 48% of the vote and while his future policies are not yet clear, they are likely to favor a return to an oligarchic control of the country. Alemán played a significant role in the pre-revolutionary Somoza guard, has had strong ties with the Contras, and took refuge in the US after the revolution. The main features of his political profile since are his hostility to the Sandinistas and his sympathy for the previous landowners dispossessed by the Sandinistas when they left Nicaragua after the revolution.

The policies of the Chamorro Government since 1990 resulted in a drastic decrease in the availability and affordability of public services such as public schooling, electricity, water, transportation and medical help. This change from the Sandinista days markedly impoverished the population. According to the UN Development Program, Nicaragua is now the second poorest nation in the western hemisphere. We anticipate little change with respect to the need for our work, as resources for rural communities are unlikely to improve under Alemán.


Our new program, with its increased scope, requires significantly more funding than before. In addition to the CFHF grant, we received $7,347 from Water for People. Water for People is a nonprofit organization started by the American Water Works Association and was formed to help communities around the world obtain and sustain safe drinking water and adequate sanitation systems. Rich Louis, an APLV volunteer in 1992-93, is an active member of this organization and helped forge the connection between APLV and WFP. Our two organizations share a vision and we look forward to an ongoing relationship.

Still, the majority of APLV funding comes from individual donors, in amounts ranging from $5 to $1000. The key to sustaining our new program will be to reach and involve more people in our program. We always have room for more interested people on our mailing list! Pass this newsletter on to a friend who may be interested in supporting drinking water projects.

In Memoriam

Two members of the APLV family passed away this year. In June, Jill Bruce died unexpectedly from a brain embolism. Jill was a much-loved APLV volunteer in 1994/95, working mostly with the community of German Pomares where we plan to build a memorial to her. She was working at the Institute of Education in London at the time of her death. On October 27, Steve Sears died while in the care of an Oakland clinic. Steve had been critically injured seven weeks earlier when he was struck by a bus while crossing the street near his home in Albany, CA. Steve was very active in Nicaragua and played a key role in APLV’s very first project in San Cayatano. He leaves with us many wonderful photographs of the people of Nicaragua.

We will all miss the two of them dearly.










Agua Para La Vida

823 Cornell Avenue

Albany, CA 94706















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