Clean Water in Cruz Verde Changes Families’ Lives

Freddy, Pedro, and Guillermo

In the humid overgrowth of Nicaragua’s dense forests lies the village of Cruz Verde, a rural region in the municipality of San Carlos. The city is home to 659 people and relies heavily on agriculture as a means of sustenance. The air is filled by the squawks of chickens running through the muddy roads, and the happy grunts of pigs rolling around in muck. The noise is almost enough to drown out the interviewees, CAPS (Comité de Agua Potable y Saneamiento  — Water Sanitation Committee) leaders Pedro, Freddy, and Guillermo. Self Help International conducted the interview nearly four years after Cruz Verde elected to install the CTI-8 water chlorinator, wanting to know the broader long-term impacts the purification system had made on the community.

Pictured here is the CTI-8 in Cruz Verde

Lobbying the people of Cruz Verde to purchase the system was quite an impact in and of itself. Describing their grassroots effort, Pedro states, “We heard about the CTI-8 during a Self Help International presentation in 2011… Our water needed to be purified, so we walked, house, to house, to house, handing out brochures and educating every family on the importance of using chlorinated water”. When asked if they literally spoke with every family, Freddy reiterates, “each house, every house”. This initiative by the CAPS leaders was meant to inform the people on the importance of investing in their water system.

Guillermo expands on this, saying, “Many people knew the stomach illnesses they suffered were from the water – less people knew that chlorinating it would help – [still] less actually chlorinated their water with home purifying kits. I would say only 30% of the people were drinking clean water before you guys [Self-Help International] installed the CTI-8”. As they communicated the seriousness of access to potable water, they were met with almost unanimous support. The push for the chlorinator lead to a communal investment in a more advanced system, providing potable running water to each household.

Pedro, Freddy, and Guillermo being interviewed by our intern

The water chlorinator in Cruz Verde

Pedro explains that before the water purification efforts, “We had to walk 4 kilometers each way to reach the nearest fresh water source… Typically the women and children went to do it since we work… they would walk back carrying anywhere from 2-5 gallons each”. To give some perspective, 5 gallons of water weighs over 40 pounds, and is carried for a total of 2.48 miles. That grueling effort was performed on a daily basis, providing water that still contained a myriad of contaminants.

Life in Cruz Verde has changed quite drastically since the installation, as water is clean and plentiful. Freddy balances his son on one knee as he explains the health benefits of the system. He states, simply, “All my kids got sick from chronic diarrhea before the installation; since the installation, all of them have avoided it”. Though incredibly effective, the CTI-8’s functions are basic and have worked without error since the installation. “We just have to place a new chlorine tablet in every two weeks or so… it’s very simple and we haven’t ever had problems with it”. When asked if they thought the purchase was worth the lobbying labor and fiscal cost, Pedro responds, “You cannot put a cost on good health… not on mine, not on my children’s, not on my neighbors, not on anyone’s”.

Freddy taking a stroll in Cruz Verde

Thanks to the generosity of donors, as of October 2015 Self-Help International has now installed 66 chlorinators purifying 1,631,000 liters of water each day to ensure that 8,849 homes, or 56,687 people, in Nicaragua have access to clean water.

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