Accessible, clean water in Quezalguaque has been a very important Sister City initiative from 2017, right up to the present. When we did the needs assessment of seven community rural water systems in 2017, we found that many things weren’t working. Chlorination systems weren’t working, seals and screens on wells and water storage tanks were missing, electrical service to the pumps was spotty, equipment was broken or in ill repair; water quality was not up to standard and water quantity was insufficient for the population’s needs. Much of this was due to the lack of training and support for the local water committees who manage the systems and the lack of financial resources for water system maintenance.
The water improvement coalition that was established at the onset of the initiative has been critical, to first diagnose the problems there and then implement improvements. Members of the coalition include: 1)the Quezalguaque municipal government (the mayor and staff from the municipal government ‘s project unit and the water and sanitation unit); 2)the local water system managers; 3) Nicaraguan professionals and organizations on the ground— especially ECODES, a Spanish NGO working in Nicaragua, with an office located in Leon, Nicaragua and with deep expertise in rural water systems; and CISTA, a research center at the National Autonomous University in Leon, specializing in water quality, among things ; 4) the Rotary Club of Brookline; 5) the Metropolitan Rotary Club of Leon and; 6)Sister City and Sister City volunteers, two of whom are water experts. To support the water initiative, we have raised funds from generous donors in Brookline; applied for and won a Global Rotary Club grant and worked with ECODES to leverage other grants.
There have been significant improvements in the 7 rural water systems, due to a thorough assessment of the water systems, initially by Sister City volunteers and later in greater depth by ECODES and CISTA civil engineers and water system management and water quality experts, and, subsequently, and according to the assessment findings, purchasing and installing new equipment for each water system and chlorinating the water supply. Throughout the initiative, extensive training in water system management and clean water has been provided to the community potable water and sanitation committees at each site. Two water systems now even have solar panels to cut dependence on electricity and reduce cost to users. We still have much more work ahead, including continuing to support the local water and sanitation committees and installation of solar panels in other sites, among other activities. Goal 6 of the 2030 worldwide UN Sustainable Development Goals is Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. We will continue to work with our partners in Nicaragua to ensure accessible, clean water for all households in Quezalguaque