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Agua Para La Vida

823 Cornell Avenue

Albany, CA 94706

(510) 643-8003

Newsletter May 1998

This Spring marks the 11th year of Agua Par La Vida! And a good year it has been. Our program is going strong thanks to your support. We finished drinking water projects in two communities this year and are on track to build four more projects next year.

It is so hard for most of us to relate to the problems of people so far away and out of the news media. The media focuses on seemingly more dramatic topics, yet water-related diseases contribute to nearly 4 million child deaths in the world each year.

In Nicaragua, the UN estimated in 1995 that only 28% of the rural population had access to safe drinking water. Community by community, APLV is working to provide more rural Nicaraguans with clean water. The circumstantial evidence that our projects are having a significant impact on the health of the campesinos and the mortality of their children is convincing.

Our school, ETAP (Escuela Tecnica de Agua Potable), will be graduating five drinking water technicians at the end of this year. Some of these graduates will continue to work with APLV and others we hope will find work with other groups. One encouraging sign is that the Nicaraguan water ministry has started an office in Rio Blanco, and we are already cooperating with them in project planning.


News From Nicaragua

Gilles spent three weeks in Rio Blanco last November. By then the two major projects of Wanawas and Copalar were well advanced. In Wanawas, the "only thing left to do" was to design and build a 215 foot span suspension bridge to carry the water pipe across a river. This is by far the longest aqueduct we have built and to make even harder, the site is not accessible by truck. Gilles and Charlie worked on the design and a set of technical notes on how it was done so that the next one can be designed by our students. Charlie was to go down in February to bring a few hard-to-find pieces of hardware and to help construct the bridge. Unfortunately, Charlie managed to break his leg during a little climbing detour to Ecuador and although he did deliver the hardware to Managua, he wasn’t able to make it out to Wanawas. The Rio Blanco crew managed to build the bridge in just over a week, and we’re very proud of that effort!

The Copalar project is one of our largest ever and involved a relatively complex distribution system. The design was done using a computer program that Gilles and Charlie developed over the past year with the precious help of a sharp mathematician, Jean-Philippe Vial of Geneva. After several iterations, this software is now being used by our team in Rio Blanco to design distribution systems which must be able to provide enough water to all of the faucets in the community without any pumps. Our hope is to make this advanced and practical design tool available to others involved in gravity flow drinking water systems.

Another volunteer technical contribution was made by Dove Scher who completed an elegant and detailed design for a suspension foot bridge over the river Rio Blanco for the village of Martin Centeno. PRODERBO, the European Community project in Rio Blanco, has agreed to finance its construction. Thanks Dove!

Our two health workers, Gregoria and Liliam have produced an wonderful hygiene manual which targets the needs of the villagers and their children. They have also started to circulate a simple questionnaire to each family in about a dozen of our project villages to attempt to measure the impact of the water project and the hygiene program on the health of the community. The anecdotal evidence is encouraging. For instance they are reporting no case of cholera for any family which has been consuming exclusively the water from our systems.

The watershed reforestation program has also had some encouraging success. In some communities, such as German Pomares, the planted saplings have become young trees 7 to 12 feet high. While it is often difficult to secure and protect sufficient areas of watershed (because these rarely belong to the villages), we have protected significant amounts of land in several communities such as Wasayamba (35 acres) and Copalar.

Two more main projects and two smaller ones are scheduled for the current year. The bigger projects are Wilikon, near the completed project of Wasayamba, and La Ponzo˝a, a short distance west of Rio Blanco. The smaller projects are extensions of prior APLV projects in the communities of San Jose project and Emiliano Perez.

In April, a delegation from Water for People spent three days visiting APLV projects in the Rio Blanco area. Project Manager John Niewoenher had this to say about their trip: "Of all of all the places that I visited in Nicaragua, the APLV-constructed water project in Wanawas was the only town or village where people have a reliable drinking water supply. It is the good fortune of the Wanwas community to have obtained the assistance of APLV and to have a reliable spring water source. I encourage others to join Water For People in supporting the good work of APLV." Water for People continues to be a strong supporter of APLV, and has recently committed over $9,000 for our upcoming project in La Ponzo˝a. It is the good fortune of our partner communities in Nicaragua that Water for People has been so supportive.

Sandino tragedy

The life of our campesino friends continues to be sadly marginal. The countryside is still not free of bandits and armed contingents whose masters and motives are often unknown. These "armados" (men with guns) terrorize the farmers. In March, one of these groups entered the community of Sandino and assassinated two men, leaving their mutilated bodies for all to see. Sandino was the site of an APLV project in 1993, and both of these men were brothers of people who work with APLV now. The victims were Serbando Cantillano (brother of Esteban Cantillano) and Nerio Jarquin (brother of Oreste Jarquin). Motives are always difficult to interpret, but this kind of activity is a clear legacy of the Contra war.

As a result, Oreste has decided to leave the area to protect his family and will be forced to leave APLV. Esteban has moved his family from Sandino into the larger town of Rio Blanco.

Other sad news came with the death of Rigoberto Zamora, 15 year-old son of long-time APLV mason Pedro Zamora. He died from liver complications. Our sympathy goes out to Pedro and his family on this difficult loss.


We’re on the Web!

We have finally joined the rest of the world and created an APLV Web site. Its just a start, but it’s a way of sharing news and pictures and getting out story out there for all to see. Check it out and let us know what you think!

APLV’s needs

Our expenses fall into two general categories: overall program expenses and individual project expenses. Program expenses include salaries (for our students, instructor, director, health and conservation workers, community coordinator, mason), truck maintenance, utilities, and office expenses. Project expenses are mainly materials and transportation.

Our support comes from:

Water for People has been a steady funder for the past few years and we are pleased that they are continuing there support.

The Conservation Food & Health Foundation has been funding our community health education and watershed conservation work for the past two years and we are hoping for continued support in the coming year.

We have received significant funding in the past from Proyecto Cristo Rey (through 1994) and PRODERBO, a European Community project based in Rio Blanco. Unfortunately, PRODERBO is in the process of finishing its work in Rio Blanco and we will need to replace this important source of funding to continue our program at its current level.

We are busy seeking additional private institutional support and we would greatly appreciate any help anyone can provide in directing us to potential sponsors. Meanwhile, we need your individual help more than ever. Thanks for taking the time to read our story and thanks once more for your continued support!

Peace and Good Health,






Gilles Corcos Charlie Huizenga










Agua Para La Vida

823 Cornell Avenue

Albany, CA 94706














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
q Other  
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