Exactly this time last year I was on a plane to Nicaragua to spend six months volunteering with Nuevas Esperanzas. Over that time, I got to witness how their work improves the lives and livelihoods of marginalised rural communities who live on the Telica Volcano. Inspired by their projects and their values, this year I have decided to sign up for a 17.5 mile run to raise funds to support their work.
Over the next six months, mirroring the time that I was in Nicaragua, I will release six blog posts. Each blog will theme on a different aspect of Nuevas Esperanzas’ activities. By doing this, I not only hope to raise funds, but also awareness of this truly exceptional charity.
Increasing access to water for people who live on Telica has been a prominent aim for Nuevas Esperanzas since they came to the area over 9 years ago. With World Water Day coming up on the 22 March, having water as the theme for this month’s post seems particularly fitting.
Drinking water on a volcano
Access to adequate drinking water is a major issue for those on Telica. For some people, springs can be up to 5 km away, involving a 4 hour journey on foot or horseback. In the dry season, months of little to no rain causes springs to become low flowing and unreliable. Groundwater near the volcano is often highly contaminated with arsenic, so digging a borehole for water is not a viable option.
Harvesting the rain
Although virtually non-existent in the dry season, rainfall is heavy and frequent during the wet season. Nuevas Esperanzas saw this rainfall as an opportunity, and identified that rainwater harvesting systems could provide a source of drinking water that was safe, reliable and close to people’s homes. Since 2006, their team has built over 70 rainwater harvesting tanks in the area, benefitting over 200 people.
Spring protection and pipelines
Nuevas Esperanzas’ spring protection projects prevent springs from getting contaminated by the surrounding environment. By building a storage tank to collect the flow from a spring, water reserves can be built up overnight and then used throughout the day, making more water available even during the dry season.
Last year, Nuevas Esperanzas built a pipeline that takes water from a protected spring over 5 km down the volcano to a community whose previous water source is highly contaminated with arsenic.
A project “in the pipeline”
This year, Nuevas Esperanzas hope to extend the pipeline project. Two communities relatively close to where the pipeline currently ends still rely on water sources that contain levels of arsenic over 25 times WHO standards. The health impacts of arsenic can be devastating, and it is associated with skin cancer, cancers of the bladder, kidney and lung, and diseases of the blood vessels of the legs and feet. By extending the pipeline, over 40 households will have access to arsenic-free water, reducing the risk of further cases of arsenic poisoning.
Please see my JustGiving Page to donate to Nuevas Esperanzas.