Testing the Waters in Nicaragua: Project Update

Last December, Technical Manager, Elise Kittrell said “hasta la vista” to the Green Empowerment (GE) office as she embarked upon a three-month journey to Nicaragua. Over the course of her trip, she worked with implementing partners AsoFenix and ATDER-BL to help communities evaluate their water systems and better understand water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) best practices. After returning to Portland, Elise is excited to share some of the work that she helped to advance.

Testing the Waters: Quality Standards and System Evaluation

Green Empowerment developed a water quality standards manual which sets requirements for all new and rehabilitated water systems. Elise reviewed this manual with implementing partners. She then participated in walk-throughs with both partners and water system committees to evaluate the design and effectiveness of their systems.

Sharing Best Practices: WASH Toolkits

Elise also introduced implementing partners to Green Empowerment’s newly developed WASH toolkits. These toolkits are a series of interactive training guides featuring best practices and activities. AsoFenix and ATDER-BL used these toolkits to train both water system committees and community members on important WASH topics such as:

  • proper water system operation and maintenance,
  • proper water usage and storage,
  • water treatment techniques, and
  • latrine use.

Implementing partners and committees were most interested in toolkit lessons on the proper cleaning and disinfection of water system infrastructure. This topic is essential, as proper understanding decreases the need for costly maintenance and ensures that potable water is delivered to households without disruption. They were trained on this topic in the past, but this latest training was more thorough and included new information. Elise clarified the need to clean both water storage tanks and distribution networks to avoid compromise by algae and sediment buildup.After this lesson, committees successfully cleaned their water systems with partner support. Thrilled by the outcome, both AsoFenix and ATDER-BL have pledged to conduct this particular training at all current and future project sites.

Lessons Learned

During her trip, Elise gained critical insight into the viability of the Water Quality Standards Manual and WASH toolkits that she helped to develop. By conducting surveys and exchanging knowledge with the communities GE supports, she was able to identify and meaningfully fill both technology and information gaps.“Community participation is essential to sustainable development, as it increases our ability to effectively support partners, and partners’ ability to effectively support communities.” Elise says. “I am encouraged by the lessons that I taught, and the lessons that I learned, in Nicaragua. I can’t wait for my next trip.”

Resource development was made possible by funding from the Christadelphian Meal-A-Day Foundation. Thank you!

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