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Nicaragua Update

Dear Friends & Supporters of the Brookline Sister City Project,

In case you missed it, here’s a link to Stephen Kinzer’s op-ed in  the 6/4 Boston Globe about the present crisis in Nicaragua.
https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2018/06/04/nicaragua-brink-calamity/pXOf7gOpjerrYR6ucLExbP/story.html

Some of us have been in regular contact with friends and colleagues in Nicaragua since the beginning of demonstrations in April.   Although Quezalguaque has remained calm,  the situation overall is very troublesome and it is a stressful and uncertain time throughout the country because of continuing demonstrations, counter demonstrations, roadblocks impacting local travel, some violence particularly directed toward demonstrators and concerns about possible food or other shortages ahead.    Because of the situation, the trip planned for this coming summer with graduate students in public health and four of our Board members was cancelled.

Despite the unstable political situation, our collaborative work in education, health care, water and other areas continues. Attached is an update about the clean water initiative and our investment of $47,000+ to help improve the water system in Quezalguaque.  There have been some delays in the initiative but it is proceeding and there is on-going collaboration with the University in Leon (UNAN/Leon) and ECODES, a Leon based NGO.

Our Sister City collaborative approach supports ongoing work on-the-ground regardless of our ability to travel on the ground.

If you’d like more information about our work or want to get involved or discuss it further, please feel free to contact us at BrooklineSisterCity@gmail.com

Thanks for your concern and continuing support in this difficult time.

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Sister City Project Invests $47K+ in Clean Water Initiative

Clean, accessible drinking water is vital to any community in the world and since 2017, a coalition of groups and organizations has been actively working together to improve water quality and water system infrastructure in Quezalguaque, a poor, rural community of approximately 12,000 residents.

Working in collaboration with community water committees, the municipal government of Quezalguaque, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma of Nicaragua (UNAN) in Leon, and ECODES, a Spanish NGO, a baseline study of the rural water system was conducted in 2017 to identity the main problems in the water system. Following the study, training for lay community water committee leaders and municipal authorities was conducted.

In 2018, improvements in the system are scheduled along with a second round of training aimed at strengthening the capacity of community water committees to better maintain their water systems and ensure clean drinking water.

Pictured below are Brookline Sister City Board members and consultants working in Quezalguaque earlier this year on the clean water initiative. The Sister City Project has awarded $47,700 to date to support this initiative.

Water

Contaminated Wells & Distribution Systems
The focus of the initiative is on 7 rural water systems in Quezalguaque serving approximately 80% of the population. Sister City Project funded water quality studies in 2017 found that 4 of 12 wells had microbial contamination and all of the distribution systems for the wells were contaminated. None of the 7 communities had working chlorination systems.

Inadequate Supply
The largest of the seven rural systems serving almost 2,000 people was supplying less than 2 hours per day of water because the well was inadequate to meet demand. Some households had water service from, e.g., 8 to 10 am and others from 10 am to noon or noon to 2 pm.

Rotary Funding
Nicaraguan engineers funded by the Sister City Project are currently developing specifications for equipment needed to address infrastructure issues in wells, water storage tanks and the distribution system. Thanks to financial support from the Brookline Rotary and Rotary International, it is expected that equipment will be purchased later this year enabling chlorination of the entire rural water system. Funds will also be used to make repairs in the 7 systems and to operationalize a new well for the community with inadequate supply where households are receiving only two hours per day of water. The municipality of Quezalguaque and Brookline’s Sister City Project will be contributing more funds to this overall effort.
Plans are also underway to address the lack of on-going water quality testing. With further funding, it is hoped that concerns about water quality and contaminants and additional infrastructure needs can be addressed.

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February Meeting in Quezalguaque

SC-Feb

L to R standing: Edipcia Roque (CISTA UNAN), Craig Miller, Carmela Hernandez (ECODES), Alex Garcia (Water & Sanitation, Mayor’s Office), Alba Arrieta (Sec’y, Quezalguaque Consejo), Silvio Quezada (new Gerente/Town Manager), Betsy Reilley, Vice Mayor Lucy Ruiz Borda & Mayor Henry Sandoval Pereira, Sarah Johnson. L to R front row: Alfredo Carrasco (ECODES), Armando Hernandez (Planning, Mayor’s Office), Richard Segan

Four team members were in Quezalguaque in February to work on the clean water initiative project. The photo was taken at the “wrap-up” meeting held in the Quezalguaque Mayor’s office at the end of the week-long visit.   Our team included consultants Betsy Reilley (Director of Environmental Quality, Mass. Water Resources Authority), Craig Miller (chemical engineer and Rotarian from Des Moines, Iowa) along with Sister City Board members Sarah Johnson & Richard Segan.  All traveled at their own expense.

Among the attendees at the meeting and active participants in the discussions related to the clean water initiative were the new Mayor, Henry Sandoval Pereira and Vice-Mayor, Lucy Ruiz Borda.   Both were elected in November of last year and assumed office in January.

Many thanks to the Brookline Rotary Club for their support and partnership on the clean water initiative. The Brookline Rotary in collaboration with a Rotary Club in Leon, Nicaragua, helped secure a $35,000 grant from Rotary International for the initiative and during the visit to Nicaragua we had the opportunity to meet with Board and members of the Club in Leon.

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Celebrating 30 Years

October 15 through Oct 21 was Sister City Week in Brookline, MA.  

This video was produced by Henry Sandoval in Quezalguaque and supported by Sarah Johnson in Brookline to celebrate the 30 years of collaboration .  A special thank you to BIG (Brookline Interactive Group) for help in adding the subscripts in English.

This video is from Henry Sandoval.  He compiled it from photos sent to him by the teachers taken during their visit to Brookline.

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