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Program aims to kick-start WASH jobs in Nicaragua

Support from the Laird Norton Family Foundation will provide skills training.

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Jan 14, 2014

This latest gift from the Laird Norton Family Foundation comes as part of an effort by WaterAid and its local partners to kick-start entrepreneurial initiatives around the water and sanitation services in a region where eight out of ten people live without access to safe water and toilets.

“People in this part of Nicaragua are largely cut off from the rest of the country by rivers, rainforests and extremely treacherous road conditions where roads exist,” noted WaterAid Country Representative, Joshua Briemberg.

The north Caribbean coast of Nicaragua is home to a predominantly indigenous and afrodescendent population and is one of the most deprived regions of the country. Access to toilets and safe drinking water in this area remains among the worst in all of Latin America: access to healthcare is limited, poverty levels extreme and job opportunities few and far between. 

WaterAid is now gearing up to extend its skills training program, giving young men and women the technical expertise to disinfect wells, drill boreholes, construct rainwater catchment systems and install rope pumps and eco-friendly toilets.

Participants in the program will be equipped with the tools, start-up funding and mentoring needed to develop their own sustainable small business initiatives.

“We are extremely grateful for the continued support of the Laird Norton Family Foundation,” emphasized Briemberg. “With their support, WaterAid has worked with the local community to develop a vocational training program that creates a pool of professionals capable of maintaining water and sanitation services, while also stimulating the local economy, creating jobs and empowering women as professional tradespeople. Learning how to build and maintain their own water and sanitation services is key to helping people take ownership over their own health and well-being in a way that has not been possible before."

In additional to jobs skills training, WaterAid will expand its work with schools to raise awareness about the importance of safe water, toilets and hygiene practices through teacher education, student hygiene clubs and structural improvements including drinking water and handwashing facilities. 

“The Laird Norton family is proud to support WaterAid’s work with communities in Nicaragua,” said Katie Briggs, Managing Director of the Laird Norton Family Foundation. “The Laird Norton family is deeply committed to improving the quality of life through access to clean water and sanitation, and WaterAid’s approach not only benefits this generation, but will benefit many generations to come.”

The Laird Norton Family Foundation has been supporting WaterAid since 2009, and has been an avid supporter of the organization’s work in Nicaragua since the program was first established in 2011.