Nicaragua Archives - WaterStep

Video: Nicaraguan partner works to bring water to rural communities

Take a minute to watch this video about our wonderful partners in Nicaragua, Puentes de Esperanza. The video comes from the California-based company People Water who accompanied us on a well repair project in Nicaragua last November.

The work that WaterStep does would not be possible without people like Rafael Alvarado and his team.

If you’re interested in being a part of a well repair project like this one, learn more about well repair training that we offer throughout the year. Learn how to assemble and disassemble pump parts, troubleshoot common problems, and help communities around the world fix their broken hand pumps and get reliable access to water.


From Nicaragua: Waiting for water

by Lauren Hack

 From a recent project in Nicaragua, where WaterStep works with Water Ambassadors of Canada and Puentes de Esperanza. 

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Anacielo approached the well where our team was working with some uncertainty. Here was a sight she didn’t see every day: The hand pump that she used to get water for all of her cooking, washing, and drinking was dismantled with its tank in the air, spouting water.

While uncertain, she seemed determined. “Are you using that water?” she asked. We told her we were pumping water to measure the flow, but that she could certainly have the water if she’d like. Her face brightened and she motioned to up the hill where her husband stood.

“Get the buckets!”


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Within minutes Anacielo was filling a 50-gallon barrel her husband had carried from their house. She worked patiently as she poured bucket after bucket into the barrel. She assured me that she would only use this water, which was murky from sediment kicked up by the pump, for cleaning floors. This was more water than she’d seen in a while, and she wanted to take advantage of the momentary wealth.

Water was precious in Las Cañas. Here, everyone depended on one of several wells for all of their water needs. This particular well had produced less water in recent months. Now, a person might pump for an hour or so before the water stopped flowing, leaving the well dry until the next day.

(Dropping an electric submersible pump down a well is a little unusual for a well repair project. We were interested to see how much water there was in the well, based on the community’s information that water flow had been low, stopping after an hour or two of pumping. The logical explanation was that either the water table was lowering, or debris was clogging the screen at the bottom of the borehole, preventing water from passing through. If it was the latter, we hoped the submersible pump might unclog some of it.)


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As the water ran clearer, word of the flowing pump spread.

Another woman showed up with a few 5-gallon buckets. Then another got line.


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Family members showed up with buckets. A small crowd gathered in the courtyard of the town kindergarten. People filled their buckets, took them home, then came back to get in line again.


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While we were waiting, Anacielo spoke to me of the continued presence of our local partners Puentes de Esperanza in Las Cañas. This well had originally been converted to a closed India Mark II hand pump system from an open rope pump system three years ago. Before that Puentes had set up medical clinics and helped with the construction of the church. She spoke of the impact it had in Las Cañas and how their continued support meant hope for her and her community.

After everyone had filled their buckets to satisfaction, the team finished repairing the well. Water was flowing steadily, as it had been for several hours. People from Las Cañas gathered around the well for a photo and took turns at the newly-repaired well.


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From Nicaragua: Giving thanks

With Thanksgiving only a few days a way, we at WaterStep wanted to take a moment to thank the many donors, volunteers, supporters, and advocates that strengthen WaterStep’s mission to provide safe water to the people that need it most. Here’s a short video from a well repair project last week in Nicaragua to say thank you!

From Nicaragua: Eight days without water

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by Lauren Hack

Some people wait years for water.

At WaterStep, in the field and in the office, we hear stories of people who wait years for a broken well to be fixed, who walk long distances to find water that might not even be safe to drink, who spend lifetimes with poor health.

This is not that kind of story.

This is a story of communication.

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The town of Las Lajas is nestled in the foothills of the central highlands of Nicaragua, off the main highway that leads east from the capital to the city of Matagalpa. It is a dry landscape, dotted with small towns and large coffee facilities where workers rake and dry coffee that has been hauled down from the mountains.

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Despite the arid climate, Las Lajas is a farming community. Fields of onions, tomatoes, and squash are irrigated by a nearby river.

In Nicaragua’s largest cities – Managua, León, Matagalpa – municipal water is pumped to houses and is typically regarded as safe to drink. Leave the cities, and the water infrastructure fades away. Here, in rural areas, the principal source of water is well water.

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The week before our team arrived in Las Lajas, a town leader named David had called our local partner Puentes de Esperanza to report a well in disrepair. This set in motion a plan to send a team the next week.

The town had been without water for eight days. For those eight days, they had carried water from the nearby river, the same river that irrigated their fields, the same river where they washed their clothing.

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Eight days might seem like a long time to wait to some, but this pales in comparison to what it could have been if the phone number of Puentes de Esperanza’s well repair leader had not found its way into David’s hands. The well repair service is unique in its area. Puentes de Esperanza started this service two years ago after being trained by WaterStep staff. Before, if a well stopped working, locals either tried to find a way to fix it themselves or it sat broken and unused. Having someone to call makes all the difference in the world.

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While our team made the repairs, the town members sat along the periphery of the pump, taking turns helping. Kids, out of school for this special occasion, gathered in clumps and watched quietly.

It turns out the town’s hand pump suffered from a common problem – friction inside the well casing had rubbed two large gashes in the pump pipe, allowing water to leak back into the aquifer. In the end, our team replaced the full hand pump system. Everyone took a turn at the well, testing out the new hand pump before gathering around David for a final celebratory word.

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“It is my hope that we can keep in touch and stay in communication for future projects. You’ve brought potable water here – that is the greatest thing of all.”

David spoke of the town’s good fortune to be in contact with Puentes de Esperanza. He ended his story as it had begun, with a request for communication.

In the story of Las Lajas, an open vein of communication between locals meant that the broken well was fixed quickly and efficiently. And that means that water will keep flowing in Las Lajas.

This blog was about WaterStep’s well repair program in Nicaragua in partnership with Water Ambassadors of Canada and Puentes de Esperanza. Interested in learning more about hand pump repair? Learn about hand pump repair training, or join a future water project in Nicaragua.