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One third of the country does not have access to clean water or proper toilets.
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2 million people don't have access to adequate sanitation in Nicaragua.


people in Nicaragua lack access to an improved water source.


Over 100 children in Nicaragua die each year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.

Known as the ‘Land of lakes and volcanoes’, Nicaragua has abundant sources of freshwater, but little of it is safe to drink or accessible.

The crisis

Years of insufficient public investment following war and natural disasters, together with contamination from mining and agricultural activities, and deforestation and soil erosion caused by extensive cattle ranching, have left 800,000 people without safe drinking water.

What’s more, 2 million people don't have access to adequate toilets in Nicaragua, a third of the population.

The resulting diseases exact a huge toll on families' health, keeping children out of school and stifling economic growth. The exhausting task of water collection usually falls to women and girls, who have little time left for work or school. Over 200 children in Nicaragua die each year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water, a lack of toilets and poor hygiene.

Our approach

WaterAid's Nicaragua program opened in 2011. We work in the North Atlantic autonomous region on the Caribbean coast – a remote, isolated area of mainly indigenous and afro-descendant people, with an annual population growth rate of more than 4%, the highest in the country.

We are helping to improve and expand safe water, sanitation and hygiene services in the region by training local people to install and maintain rope pumps (a simple type of water pump), install eco-toilets (a type of pour-flush latrine), drill manual borehole wells, clean and disinfect existing hand-dug wells, and install rainwater catchment systems.

To identify the communities most in need of assistance, we are helping local people to map current access to safe water and sanitation. Our work is focused on establishing safe water and sanitation facilities in schools as well as households.

Our impact

In Nicaragua last year we reached:

  • 2,000 people with safe water
  • 1,000 people with improved sanitation


Read article >

WaterAid Nicaragua Country Representative Joshua Briemberg discusses the relative advantages of rainwater catchment and manually drilled boreholes in the Millennium Water Alliance newsletter. (PDF 975KB)

Program evaluation

In November 2014, two independent consultants and a member of WaterAid UK’s Program Support Unit conducted an evaluation of the Nicaragua program to assess its relevance, effectiveness, and technical excellence. The evaluators spent three weeks consulting key local and national stakeholders and institutions on sector challenges and visiting WaterAid supported projects. This briefing note summarizes the evaluation team’s findings and recommendations.

Download WaterAid Nicaragua program evaluation > (PDF 2MB)

Agua Para Waslala Program Alliance

In 2016, WaterAid acquired Water for Waslala and has partnered with El Porvenir to create the Agua Para Waslala Program Alliance. WaterAid will provide the reach, infrastructure and sector expertise to build on Water for Waslala's work while El Porvenir will implement current and future projects with their expansive technical knowledge. This collaboration will leverage each respective organization's strengths and assets in order to achieve universal access to water, sanitation, and hygiene in the municipality of Waslala by 2030.

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