Nicaragua: Liwa Mairin | Women Waterkeepers

The ProblemA child drinking water - ©Anthony Asael, World of Stock

On the North Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua, Indigenous children die from easily preventable waterborne illnesses. The deadliest time is hurricane season, which stretches from June through December.

Seasonal flooding carries raw sewage and other pollutants into the water supply. The dirty water brings diseases like typhoid, dysentery and cholera. With no access to clean water or healthcare, even a simple case of diarrhea can quickly become fatal. Most of the time, parents can only watch as their children sicken and die.

Nicaragua's Indigenous People are particularly vulnerable to waterborne illnesses because the government has not provided health or sanitation infrastructure.


The Solution

MADRE and our local partner, Wangki Tangni, are working to build a water culture founded on the belief that clean drinking water is not only a vital resource but an inherent, universal human right. In order to do this, we are:
  • Training Indigenous women and their family members to maintain wells and latrines and care for local creeks, rivers, wetlands and lagoons.
  • Organizing seminars with key community members, such as public health workers, teachers and water technicians, to discuss how to incorporate issues of clean water into their work with local women and families.
  • Promoting a clean water culture in schools through a poster competition for children and through the distribution of educational materials in schools.
  • Building awareness in the community by producing radio and theater programs that use traditional Indigenous stories about water to strengthen cultural values regarding water management.
  • Cleaning and repairing wells and latrines in three communities. In consultation with Engineers Without Borders, we work with our sister organization to determine which wells and latrines require immediate attention, and we provide the needed water pumps and supplies.


The Results

  • Access to clean water will save lives and eliminate the risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery.
  • Women gain leadership skills and improve their status in the community by ensuring a healthy drinking supply for themselves and their families.
  • Women have more time available for income-generating and educational activities.
  • Community members from Waspam, Kisalaya and Kururia are active participants in building a culture of clean water.
  • Improved areas around water sources promote the long-term health of water ecosystems.