World Water Day: Impact Story

4th March 2013

Today, 22nd March is World Water Day. Over 800 million people worldwide still do not have access to clean, drinking water or basic sanitation.

Access to water is something many of us take for granted. Events are taking place around the world today to raise awareness of water issues globally and the importance of improving the management of our limited water resources.

At Raleigh International our programmes in Borneo, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, India and Tanzania help bring water to hundreds of homes every year. We work with local partners to identify communities where our support is most needed and to ensure that good water management will be maintained in the future.

Since last summer our International Citizen Service (ICS) programme has been working with partners and local communities in Nicaragua to install gravity water feed systems. The gentleman pictured is Don Hermildo. He is 70 years old and from El Rodeo in the Nature Reserve Rodeo Moropotente in Miraflor, Nicaragua. His community is now able to make use of clean, fresh water for the first time thanks to the Raleigh ICS programme.

Last autumn, volunteers from the UK and Nicaragua worked together with community members in El Rodeo to build water systems for 43 houses in partnership with Foro Miraflor who manage the nature reserve. Thanks to this partnership and community volunteers, all residents of El Rodeo, including Don Hermildo, now have a water station in their own homes and a tank with a capacity of 160 barrels, allowing residents to use water without fear of disease.

Before this project, the Rodeo community had no access to drinking water and the residents had to walk up to one kilometre to fetch water, which was often contaminated. According to bacteriological studies conducted in the area, the water contained traces of human faecal and chemical residues, caused by the lack of latrines and waste dumped in rivers.

Yahoska Berrios Rodriguez from Managua, Nicaragua was a team leader for the ICS group in El Rodeo. She remembers one community member very vividly:

“A moment I will never forget was meeting Don Hermildo, a man of 70 years who we called “Grandfather.” When talking to him we found out that he suffers from gastritis and colitis causing vomiting and terrible stomach pains. This prevented him from digesting lots of food, including beans and dairy products, the staple foods in the area. Despite not being able to eat well and also suffering from severe arthritis, “Grandfather” came to work with us day after day, rain or shine, with his pick and shovel, and made an unbelievable effort to contribute to the water project. I was so moved by Don Hermildo, who regardless of the terrible pain in his bones and stomach was always working with us, laughing, with an incredible sweetness of heart. He was a perfect representation of the people of the El Rodeo community, people that despite any circumstances wanted to get ahead with a smile on their faces. I am so proud that we were able to help Don Hermildo and the community gain access to water, a resource that will help improve their lives for the better.

At Raleigh, we believe that everyone should have the right to clean, fresh water. Many of our volunteers are privileged to have witnessed the joy of community members when they turn that tap for the first time.
So, please remember that water is a precious, shared resource that we all need to survive. Everyone can help preserve it. You can help limit your water footprint in some very simple ways:

  • Turning off the water while you brush your teeth
  • Cutting down your time spent in the shower by a minute or two
  • Fixing your leaky tap; left alone it can waste up to 100 gallons of water a day
  • Make informed decisions about the food you eat and how much water their production requires
  • Campaign for manufacturers to use less water in food production

For more information about Raleigh’s impact around access to water, please do have a read of our blogs where you can read firsthand about our work in country.