Waslala is a remote region located in central Nicaragua. Traveling to Waslala from the capital of Managua involves a seven-hour journey on treacherous, muddy mountainside roads.
The area is home to 65,000 residents, most of whom live in the rural villages outside the town center. Nearly all communities are only accessible by hiking or riding mules for hours through the humid rain forest.
Waslala was center stage during the US-funded Nicaraguan Contra war of the 1980s, which destroyed what little infrastructure was present in the region. Today, most Waslalans earn less than $2/day, have a fourth-grade education, and lack access to even the most basic human needs: clean water, electricity, telephones, sanitation, and health care.
Photo: Marta, a young girl in the community of Santa Maria Kubali who acted as tour guide during our M&E team’s recent visit, happily washes her hands with clean fresh water.
Matt Nespoli, Nora Pillard Reynolds, and seven other Villanova University students first traveled to Waslala, Nicaragua in 2002 on a two-week trip.
During the trip, the Waslalan people indicated that their most urgent need was to access clean drinking water. Matt and Nora returned home convicted to find a way to end the Waslalan water crisis, and in 2004 created Water for Waslala to do so.
Since its inception, WfW has implemented 18 community water projects serving over 3,400 residents while reaching another 3,800+ residents since 2014 through a household filter micro-loan program.
Despite progress, the municipal government reports that only 35% of the 65,000 Waslala residents currently have improved access to water supplies, 10-15% have access to safe drinking water, and 8% have access to adequately improved sanitation.
In 2016, WaterAid acquired Water for Waslala and 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. Read more about our work in Nicaragua.