Thursday, November 20, 2014

Top 20 Countdown: #11 Clean Water

Can you imagine how important clean water is to the health of a community?  We take clean water for granted… we routinely go to kitchen, grab a glass, and turn on the faucet and never think twice.

Can you imagine how important having a way to dispose of human waste is to the health of a community?  We also take the luxury of a bathroom for granted; most homes in the U.S. have at least two bathrooms.

In 1994 when we moved to Nicaragua, the neighborhood down the road from us, Roberto Clemente, was made of shacks… thrown together homes of scrap material. No water flowing to each home and no latrines.  Many families were literally defecating in plastic bags and throwing them into the dirt road because they also did not have a shovel or a spade. 

In the time between Thanksgiving and mid-January our first year, they suffered the loss of five babies… five infants in this small community died from lack of clean water and proper sanitation.  The community asked us for water and latrines.  Through the Lutheran World Relief we received a grant that provided the materials to run one faucet of piped clean water to each home and materials to dig and build a latrine for each household.  The community did all the labor.

What a celebration when the water was turned on!!!  We had piñatas, music, and speeches… lots of speeches… and only one (though one too many) baby died in the following nine months!

In the next few years we were able to provide water to two other communities, Cuatro de Abril and Los Andes… both communities were made of people who were dirt poor…literally living with dirt floors, unsanitary conditions due to lack of water and soap, and some children even ate dirt because they were hungry.  Just having water meant vegetable plants could be watered, fewer parasites in the kids’ bellies, bathing was easier, and keeping the home environment clean, as all Nicaraguans struggle to do, was easier.

Working with engineers from Bucknell University, the El Porvenir coffee cooperative has had water flowing into a large tank on the top of their mountain since 2009.  This community had a well for years at the bottom of the mountain, but all water had to be transported via tractor up the steep incline to where most of the folks actually live.In the dry season each person was allocated 2 gallons of water a day for all their needs.  Our medical volunteers who went to the community would see case after case of urinary tract infections that mostly could be prevented by drinking more water.

None of these communities are wasteful of their water but their health and standard of living shoot way up when water is available.  Next time you turn on your tap, give thanks on just how fortunate you are for that gush of goodness.
Future Projects:
•    We are working with the local Ciudad Sandino Rotary Club and Rotary Clubs in Santa Barbara, CA, to bring potable water to two rural communities in Ciudad Sandino... awaiting funding


Counting down to #GivingTuesday on December 2nd, we’re highlighting the CDCA’s accomplishments over our 20 years in Nicaragua. Follow our countdown in this blog, on Facebook and Twitter. Help us keep doing more by giving $20. Our goal is to raise $20,000.