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2012 Annual APLV Newsletter

The 2012 Annual APLV Newsletter (pdf, 1.5MB) has arrived - with all the info about this year's projects and the wrapup of the successful ETAP class. Congratulations on a great year, Nica Team! Read more about 2012 Annual APLV Newsletter

Ojo de Agua Newsletter #5 - Latest news from APLV

Attached is the Ojo de Agua newsletter with the latest news from APLV in English and Spanish. Read more about Ojo de Agua Newsletter #5 - Latest news from APLV

APLV Seeking Professor for the ETAP (Position filled!)

Update: We've happy to announce that Alberto Diego de Gómez is the new professor for the 6th promotion of the ETAP school!

APLV is seeking an instructor for the ETAP, our Potable Water Technical School.  This is a great opportunity for a civil engineer to make a clear, sustainable contribution to rural water development in Central America.

  Read more about APLV Seeking Professor for the ETAP (Position filled!)

Rehabilitation of APLV Projects

Introduction

(Translated from the Spanish language original by Esteban Cantillano)

APLV has been building potable water and sanitation projects in remote communities in Nicaragua since 1987. Those projects have helped thousands of families to reduce water-borne illnesses. The projects themselves are maintained on a day-to-day basis by the community itself, which was trained by APLV water technicians and health and environmental promoters. Massive changes in community lifestyle have resulted, with communities using pure water, improved personal cleanliness, and completely changed relationship with the environment.

Why Projects Have to be Rehabilitated

Many changes take place as a project goes through its useful life. Population increases, with new families moving in and family growth, community development and change, new forms of income, and new types of work. Read more about Rehabilitation of APLV Projects

La Enea: The Story of One Project

We revisited La Enea on January 5, 2012 to see how the project had ended up. [I had come to the site](http://www.aplv.org/node/99) at the height of construction in February, 2008, and seen what the construction looked like and how the diversion was being done, but we wanted to see what had happened after the project was completed. We were amazed at the success of the project, the prospective sustainability, and the maturity of both APLV's approach and the La Enea community's response.

### Beginnings: The "Solicitud", or Application Letter

The impressive project at La Enea was completed in 2008 after 20 years of dashed hopes. The community, which had enormous water problems, had sought to solve them over the years by approaching organization after organization, both governmental and non-governmental, asking for help. But although many promised, none came through. Finally an evangelical pastor in the area who was familiar with Agua Para La Vida mentioned that he had heard of it and encouraged them to get in contact.

As always, the official process began with a "Solicitud", an informal letter of application, explaining the community's need, possible water sources, the names committee members who would back the bid for a water system, and the estimated population of the community.

### First Impressions: A Community in Dire Need Read more about La Enea: The Story of One Project

Okawás Formal System Handover

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Thierry Sciarri pouring the symbolic first glasses of water for the girls

The village of Okawás, whose water system was completed in 2006, had the formal handover ceremony on February 18, 2008, along with a visit from the entire APLV team to see the final results. Thierry Sciari, representing the French funding organization Res Publica, flew from France for the ceremony.

To get to Okawás from the quite rural town of Rio Blanco, you have to travel about an hour and a half on dirt roads, then cross a river on a small boat and go another hour or more on foot or horseback, so getting the entire team, along with a piñata for the kids and a band for the music up there was no small accomplishment.

The entire village was ready, cleaned up, and decorated for the occasion. The dedicated health promoters Lillan and Gregoria went right to work with their regular survey and check-up, seeing whether the outhouses were being used and the water "puestos" were being managed correctly, and checking into the health (quite a lot improved) of the various families. Thierry and several others went by horseback to see the water tank and the water source, now completely finished. Finally, the full ceremony began - a ribbon-cutting followed by serving good, fresh, clean water to the children, lots of speeches to solemnify the occasion, lunch, and (what the kids were waiting for) the piñata. Read more about Okawás Formal System Handover

Home-Grown Leadership in Nicaragua

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Esteban Cantillano leading a community meeting at Monte de Cristo

Esteban Cantillano is only one of the amazing personal success stories of APLV. In 1993 he was a campesino living in a little, remote village where APLV was developing a potable water project. He was elected the coordinator by the community, so was responsible for all the interface with the community. But he asked a pile of questions of the brigade from UC Berkeley that was putting in the system! He wanted to know about everything. He was eventually invited to join the first class of the "Potable Water Technical School", a technical high school program, but protested that he had only finished the 6th grade. They said "well, try it out - we'll take you on probation." That was in 1993. Needless to say, he finished with honors (and later went back and did his 7th-10th grade education!) and became one of the pillars of APLV. He has served in the technical/design role he was trained for, as the social coordinator (who does the contact with the village, local government, landowners, and the like), and is now in charge of the office here in Rio Blanco. He seems to know everybody, and to know everything about every project ever constructed by APLV. Read more about Home-Grown Leadership in Nicaragua

Environment and Reforestation: Fadir Rojas

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Fadir Rojas in the Cerro Musún Wilderness Reserve

The second day we were in Rio Blanco at APLV in Rio Blanco Fadir Rojas, APLV's reforestation engineer, took us for a hike up into the beautiful Cerro Musún wilderness reserve right next to the town, where he used to work as an engineer and ranger. We spent the afternoon climbing up into virgin forest to a beautiful waterfall called Cascada Las Golondrinas (the swallows). As we walked along we chatted about his responsibilities with APLV and the growing importance of reforestation within the goals of the organization.

Fadir is from a purely campesino family in the dry, heavily populated western part of the country. His parents barely went to school - perhaps to the first grade - and can't really read, but they pushed education in their family and Fadir is one of four university graduates in his family. He succeeded in getting full scholarships for his university education at the national university and is now, at 27, one of the elite young leaders of Nicaragua.

When Fadir came to APLV he found that their vision of reforestation was too limited: They understood the idea of using forest management to project the water source from contamination, but the integrated management plan did not include enough emphasis on protecting the watershed itself from deforestation. Of course any spring depends on the waters beng gathered by its watershed, and will dry up if all the trees are cut to provide pasture for cattle, or if all the upstream land is pressed into an inappropriate type of service. Read more about Environment and Reforestation: Fadir Rojas

APLV's Potable Water Technical School

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Class at the Potable Water Technical School

Agua Para La Vida is committed to truly sustainable solutions, and they have demonstrated it in the most significant way by actually starting a school for Potable Water Technicians.

The initial little tiny project that APLV did back in the 1980's, of course, was mostly done by brigades of volunteers coming to Nicaragua for a few weeks at a time. But when you do that, your project has little hope of being sustainable, because there is inadequate in-country expertise. To counter this, APLV started up the "Escuela Tecnica para Agua Potable", or Technical School for Potable Water back in the 1990's. It's a fully accredited 2+ year class involving every aspect of potable water design and development, including the theory and practice of planning and engineering the delivery systems and including everything else that APLV does with a project. Three classes have now graduated, and the fourth class (of 8 students) is about halfway through. For this class, 70 students from all over Nicaragua applied for the full-ride scholarship (including room, board, and tuition), and just the 8 slots were available. But what an education they get. They come out with all the mathematics and engineering to do technical work on water systems, and have a fully-accredited "Bachelor" degree, similar to an honors technical high school degree. Their presence in various organizations throughout Nicaragua means that projects don't have to spend money on high-priced consultants to do the work that these specialized technicians can do. APLV's "ETAP" school is the only school graduating water technicians in Nicaragua. Read more about APLV's Potable Water Technical School

La Enea: An Ambitious New Water System

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The "Capture point" at the water source at La Enea

I got to visit the very ambitious water project being built at the village of La Enea, which involves capturing the water from a creek high on the other side of a significant valley, bringing it down across the river and then back up the other side of the valley to the village.

This is a tremendously ambitious project, the biggest Agua para la Vida has ever undertaken. It involves the capture of part of a stream instead of just a little spring (and might require chemical treatment) and involves something like 37 kilometers of piping, seven kilometers for the basic water delivery and the rest for the distribution system.

And the water system will be a tremendous boon to this community, because they currently have to haul their (poor quality) water from a stream four kilometers away. So most either walk with a heavy load of water or perhaps load a burro with a big load. Imagine the time it would take out of your day if you had to personally carry all the water you needed for drinking, cooking, and clothes washing from a source two and a half miles away.

My visit was with an entire team from APLV, and there was a major status meeting with the entire community. Most of the meeting was about making sure that the proper amount of community labor was organized, since the community provides all the unskilled labor, as much as 50 man-days of hard labor per family. In the current stage of the project most of the work is using a pick and shovel to dig meter-deep trenches for the piping through rocky, rocky soil. Read more about La Enea: An Ambitious New Water System

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