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Nicaragua--Community well rehabilitation project

Action Against Hunger is one of the Nicaraguan NGOs that received a grant from USAID to reconstruct and expand water and sanitation services in areas hit by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.  Pictured here is one of AAH's community well rehabilitation projects.

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Five Grantees To Implement the Water and Sanitation Rehabilitation Program in Nicaragua

Five PVOs operating in Nicaragua have begun the implementation phase of the USAID-funded Emergency Rural Water Supply, Sanitation, and Environmental Health Program.  EHP is coordinating and facilitating the overall program, which will be carried out in close coordination with both ENACAL (the water and sanitation agency of the government) and MINSA (the health agency of the government).

The ultimate purpose of the program (which is described in January 2000, February 2000, and April 2000 at EHP) is to increase water supply services for 150,000 - 200,000 people in the departments and municipalities of Nicaragua most adversely affected by Hurricane Mitch in October 1998.

These initial PVO grants aim to provide improved environmental health services, hygiene education, and sustainable local management through integrated community programs for approximately 75,000 people.

This month's update report provides brief descriptions of the five PVOs that were awarded grants:

  • Action Against Hunger,
  • ADRA Nicaragua,
  • Alistar Nicaragua,
  • PLAN International and
  • Save the Children USA.

Together, the five organizations, working with full participation of the communities involved, will bring about physical improvements in water and sanitation and will carry out environmental education and hygiene behavior change programs for beneficiaries in seven departments of Nicaragua.

 Action Against Hunger

Mission: Action Against Hunger works worldwide in 40 countries.  Over 350 overseas and 4,000 local workers carry out AAH programs.  It is currently running about 80 relief and rehabilitation


Action Against Hunger

programs with a five-pronged approach to eradicating hunger: food security, nutrition, water, health, and disaster preparedness. Action Against Hunger has treated 3.5 million victims of hunger and malnutrition. Its aim is to save lives, then begin rebuilding and developing long-term sustainable systems through training and monitoring. AAH's program helps restore self-sufficiency and dignity to the lives of its beneficiaries.

Summary of Activities: AAH programs in Nicaragua facilitate the provision of and access to safe drinking water through digging wells, protecting springs, and improving gravity-flow systems. AAH also implements sanitation programs such as building latrines, showers, and wastewater evacuation systems.  The populations served are involved in all aspects of the project including project design and training programs for maintenance to protect the long-term viability of construction and rehabilitation programs.  Health education is a key element of AAH's project interventions and is designed to address the health aspects of potable water, latrines and personal hygiene.

Plans under the EHP Grant Program: AAH received a grant to implement water and sanitation programs for the dispersed rural populations of seven municipalities in the Department of Madriz, one in the Department of Nueva Segovia, and one in the Department of Esteli. The goal is to improve the health and sanitary conditions of rural communities affected heavily by Hurricane Mitch. Specifically, AAH will construct 3 new water points and 4 new gravity-flow systems, and it will rehabilitate 14 water points and 4 gravity-flow systems. AAH is also to build 600 latrines. The grant also includes a hygiene education component, i.e., promotion of behaviors to protect clean water, to care for and maintain the new water points, and to maintain hygiene and sanitation practices which will prevent cholera. Training will be provided for beneficiaries and local technicians. The project is anticipated to benefit 9,000 people.

Contact information: Nicol�s Berlanga, National Coordinator: Email: [email protected]

Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA Nicaragua)

Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA Nicaragua)

Summary of Activities: ADRA signed a country agreement with the Nicaraguan government in 1990, following the lengthy civil war. ADRA�s work in Nicaragua began with a food-for-work project as well as child survival interventions in the former war zone. Throughout the 1990s, ADRA continued to implement child survival programs and food distribution programs. 

After Hurricane Mitch, ADRA's work expanded to include water, sanitation, housing, child survival, and food-for-work projects in 15 municipalities. It is currently involved in such diverse activities as health education in the poorest communities in the former war zone; housing construction for those left homeless following the hurricane; and food-for-work programs which reach 7,600 families via agricultural/infrastructure, water and sanitation, and child survival programs. ADRA is also in a partnership with eight other NGOs to strengthen health services for the population. In the area of water and sanitation, ADRA is currently implementing a project under the aegis of DANIDA.  In that activity, new wells and latrines are being built for more than 60 public schools in northern Nicaragua.

Plans under the EHP Grant Program:  ADRA will concentrate its efforts on reconstruction of wells, latrines, and gravity water systems in the Las Segovias region of Northern Nicaragua. This former war zone and Hurricane Mitch-affected area is considered one of the poorest regions in the country; over 57% of the population have no proper latrine facility, and only 24% have access to potable water using methodologies that encourage community participation. ADRA will construct 1,340 latrines, 45 wells, and 11 gravity-flow water systems.

Contact information: Mr. Anthony Stahl, Executive Director: Email: [email protected]

Alistar Nicaragua

Mission: Fundaci�n Alistar was founded in 1996 as a Nicaraguan non-profit organization. It was created to alleviate poverty through integrated and sustainable community assistance programs in rural Nicaragua, specifically in Ometepe in the south and Bosawas in the north. Its mission is "to enable those in poverty to reach their full potential by assisting the communities in which they live."


Alistar Nicaragua

Summary of Activities:  Alistar promotes rural, sustainable community programs by working alongside community leaders, helping communities to identify obstacles to improved living standards, implementing programs to remove such obstacles, and securing financial support for implementing community programs. Its programs are designed to promote independence and local ownership, to foster maximum local impact and sustainability. Alistar incorporates community participation as a central part of its programs in all locales. Programs include education, community-based health, improved water and sanitation systems, leadership development, and economic and agricultural development.

Plans under the EHP Grant Program:  Alistar received a grant to build local capacity and form a local institution that will be able to promote and follow up on the different clean water and sanitation projects being developed in 11 indigenous communities in Bosawas. The program is titled Raya Ka laya (in Miskitu, this means "Water for Life".) Training, community development, and hygiene behavior are central to the activities in all sites. The project will benefit 3,200 people along the Bocay and Coco rivers that were hard hit by Hurricane Mitch. The project will run for 18 months (March 2000 to August 20001.)

Contact: Mr. Anuar Murrar, Executive Director Email: [email protected]

PLAN International

Mission: PLAN International strives to achieve lasting improvements in the quality of life of deprived children in developing countries through a process that unites people across cultures and adds meaning and value to their lives by:

  • Enabling deprived children, their families, and their communities to meet their basic needs and to increase their ability to participate in and benefit from their societies;
  • Fostering relationships to increase understanding and unity among peoples of different cultures and countries;
  • Promoting the rights and interest of the world�s children.

Summary of Activities: PLAN Nicaragua works in five regions of the country: Puerto Moraz�n, Chinandega; Juigalpa, Chontales; Masatepe, Masaya; Villa El Carmen; and seven urban districts of the capital, Managua. Most of its interventions take place in rural communities. PLAN works through cooperative agreements, which link community development goals with national and regional priorities. PLAN supports NGO networking initiatives to increase effective coordination of on-the-ground expertise.

One of PLAN�s core programs is tied to health education (which is also a central emphasis of the EHP program). The objectives of the PLAN program are to improve health conditions in PLAN work zones and to train health volunteers in preventive health measures, supporting them in sharing their knowledge within their communities. Through this program, PLAN Nicaragua has increased the number and breadth of knowledge of health volunteers, who spread the message about preventive health measures.

Plans under the EHP Grant Program: PLAN Nicaragua received a grant to work in 18 communities in the department of Chinandega. About 14,000 people will benefit. In the areas served, access to safe water will increase from around 13 percent to at least 90 percent. Primary activities under the EHP grant are upgrading of family wells, including the provision of simple pumps; construction of adequate sanitary facilities both at homes and schools; and rehabilitation, extension, and construction of two potable water systems. Under the supervision of experienced bricklayers, families themselves will provide transport of materials and will work on the construction tasks. Community water committees will be formed to assure maintenance and sustainability of the systems. An educational component will promote the proper use and care of the systems and promote healthy behavioral change to guarantee long-term impacts on the health of children and their families.

Contact person: Mr. Charles Compton, Country Director, Email: [email protected]

Save the Children USA

Mission: Save the Children USA�s mission is "to create lasting positive change in the lives of children in need." It achieves this mission through self-help programs designed to ensure sustained improvements and benefits for children, families, and communities. It uses a "child-centered, community development" approach to assistance, which means working with families and communities to develop the skills, education, and resources they need to provide for themselves and their children.

Save the Children, USA

Summary of Activities:  Save the Children USA has been in operation in Nicaragua since 1993, primarily in the departments of Leon and Chinandega. Over the years, it has worked in 148 communities in interventions primarily targeting child survival/health, basic education, child development, and food security. Following Hurricane Mitch, the number of beneficiaries assisted by Save the Children USA substantially increased as it provided relief and rehabilitation assistance in post-emergency interventions, including food distribution.

Plans under the EHP Grant Program: Through a program called AGUASAMBI (short acronym for Water, Sanitation, and Environmental Health Project), Save the Children will work in the hurricane-affected areas of Chinandega.  The program will construct 968 wells and 1,551 latrines and will provide training in the operation and maintenance of the facilities for all beneficiaries. The overall objective is to improve the health status of approximately 16,000 people by providing access to sustainable water supply, sanitation, and environmental health services.

Contact: Mr. Swaleh Karanja, Executive Director Email: [email protected]

EHP Provides Support for USAID�s Malaria Vaccine Development Program

More than 300 to 500 million episodes of malaria occur each year, causing more than two million deaths, mostly in children. Non-fatal malaria imposes an enormous economic burden of illness, which has a major impact on the affected communities. Malaria costs more than $1.7 billion each year in medical care and lost productivity. However, available methods to prevent and treat malaria are inadequate: the mosquitoes that transmit the disease have become resistant to insecticides and the parasites that cause malaria have become resistant to the treatment drugs. New technologies are urgently needed.

For over 20 years, USAID has supported the search for a vaccine to reduce the heavy toll of malaria through its Malaria Vaccine Development Program (MVDP). The program is facilitated and coordinated by EHP, with Dr. Lorraine Soisson as technical advisor.

In recent years, much evidence has emerged indicating the feasibility of malaria vaccines. Rapidly accumulating new knowledge of the parasite has allowed powerful insights into possible methods for producing vaccines, and experimental vaccines have been demonstrated capable of protecting against the disease. One experimental vaccine has been tested in large numbers of people but with limited success. A number of requirements must still be met before a vaccine suitable for large-scale deployment is available. The major challenges are the development of a vaccine that�

� can be mass produced,
� is suitable for deployment in the developing world,
� protects children, and
� will protect a large proportion of the individuals immunized.

Although this is a tall order, most experts believe that such a vaccine can be developed.

USAID's MVDP was for many years the major global effort devoted to developing vaccines to decrease illness and death due to malaria in children in endemic areas. In the early years, the program consisted entirely of research efforts to identify promising approaches. As the knowledge base grew, the program progressively shifted toward testing the approaches identified by the earlier work through the production and testing of investigational vaccines. In particular, the MVDP focused efforts on development of vaccines against the asexual stages of the parasite, which are likely to be important in protecting against chronic malaria exposure.

Major MVDP accomplishments include:

  • Discovery of systems for cultivating different stages of the parasite in the laboratory; the impact of these discoveries on subsequent progress cannot be overestimated.
  • The first discovery of a parasite molecule potentially useful as a vaccine constituent and, subsequently, discovery of other molecules that are candidates for vaccine development.
  • Tests of investigational vaccines in humans, including two clinical trials in 1996-1998, that broke new ground in the malaria vaccine development effort: a completely synthetic vaccine and a vaccine against the major asexual stage of the parasite.

The MVDP works closely with academia, the commercial sector, and other government agencies. Experimental vaccines produced by several companies (Hoffman-LaRoche, Chiron, and Microgenesys) have been tested under the program.  The MVDP is currently engaged in several efforts designed to fill the most important gaps in the global malaria vaccine development effort. For example, a major program is being conducted in collaboration with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and SmithKline Beecham (SBBio).

For more information on the USAID MVDP, contact Dr. Carter Diggs, Senior Technical Advisor in USAID�s Environmental Health Division, PHN Center ([email protected])  or Dr. Lorraine Soisson, EHP Technical Advisor to the MVDP ([email protected]).

Water for the World Now Available Electronically

In 1982, a series of 160 technical notes were produced through a USAID-funded contract with the National Demonstration Water Project. The technical notes were intended to provide assistance to a broad range of people with field responsibility for village water supply and sanitation projects. These short (generally 4-8 page) articles present very clear instructions on the steps involved in installing, adapting, or improving systems. They were available in printed form only.

Although these publications might be viewed as "old" in the computer era, they are timeless in their hands-on approach to system operation and maintenance. They are fine examples of good clear "how-to" directions, including excellent line drawings which accompany the text.

Lifewater International, a water resource development organization based in California, recently scanned all 160 Water for the World technical notes, making them available electronically for the first time. EHP noted this new arrival on the electronic scene, and provided bridging services to make the files available through USAID�s Development Experience Clearinghouse.

To access these documents, go to USAID�s publication web site at http://www.dec.org, select "Electronic Only" in the Search feature and type in "Water for the World" in the Search field.  To view a sample, click here.

USAID logo EHP is sponsored by the Office of Health and Nutrition in the
Center for Population, Health and Nutrition, Bureau for Global 
Programs, Field Support and Research of the U.S. Agency for
International Development
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Last modified November 25, 2002