The Brookline- Quezalguaque Sister City Project (BQSCP) is working actively to improve rural water systems throughout the municipality of Quezalguaque in Nicaragua in order to expand access to clean water for all residents. Thanks to the generous donations from people in Brookline, a new rural water system was inaugurated Sunday January 13 in the community of Las Mercedes in Quezalguaque as shown in and the video.
Las Mercedes Dedication Ceremony
This short clip of the ceremony at Las Mercedes for launch of the new well last Sunday (January 13, 2019). The person in the blue checked shirt turning on the water is the Mayor of Quezalguaque, Henry Sandoval. Las Mercedes CAPS’ member Agustin Garcia is on the left in a red hat. A number of us including the BHS students met him and have heard him talk about the very difficult situation in the Las Mercedes community. On the right is the President of the Las Mercedes CAP, and further to the right in red is Daniela Canales, another person that many of us have met; she is the Treasurer for the Las Mercedes CAP.
Rotary Club International, the municipal government of Quezalguaque and Rotary Club Brookline also provided funding for this new system in a community where just one year ago people’s access to water was limited to one hour per day. BQSC plans to continue to support improvements in the other rural water systems in Quezalguaque in 2019.
Brookline High School (BHS) sophomore Willa Vish announced the launch of a campaign to sell reusable water bottles to help fund the Brookline Sister City Project clean water initiative in Quezalguaque. Vish made the announcement at the Sister City Educational Forum & Fundraiser at the Brookline VFW Post.
At the time the announcement was made, the environmental friendly reusable bottles had not yet been received; Vish and her fellow BHS students took orders for bottles rather than selling them at the Sister City fundraiser as originally planned. Since the bottles arrived they have been selling rapidly. If you are interested in purchasing a BQSIP bottle contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Vish along with fellow sophomore Sophie Jelden were among the BHS students that traveled to Quezalguaque in April 2018 and this fall they led efforts to organize a BHS student club to support Quezalguaque and the Sister City Project. Social studies teacher Joanne Burke-Hunter traveled to Quezalguaque with the students in April and she is the faculty advisor for the newly authorized club.
Speaking to the attendees at the event that featured former Governor Michael Dukakis and award winning correspondent Stephen Kinzer, Vish explained that the BHS club’s first project is selling reusable water bottles. Funds raised by the sale will be donated to the Brookline Sister City Project for the clean water initiative funded by the Sister City Project for the Quezalguaque community.
Vish and the members of the new club not only hope to raise money for and build awareness of the Sister City Project but they are promoting the reusable water bottles as an alternative to single use plastic commercially sold water bottles.
The typical American reportedly uses an average of 167 plastic water bottles per year. With promotion of reusable water bottles, the goal will be to dramatically reduce and eventually eliminate single use plastic bottles.
Vish, Jelden and the other students in attendance at the Sister City Ed Forum received orders for more than 40 bottles at the event. The bottles are branded BQSIP for Brookline-Quezalguaque SIP.
Sister City Board member and liaison to the Brookline schools, Stacey Downey introduced Vish at the event and commended the students for establishing the club and taking on the new initiative.
For more information about the Sister City Project or to order a BQSIP $12 reusable water bottle, contact BrooklineSisterCity@gmail.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.