Importance of Good Leadership for Clean Water

Serapio lives in Boca de Escalera, a rural community located about 44.75 miles from the Self-Help International head office in San Carlos, Río San Juan and about 13.68 miles from Boca de Sábalos, head of the El Castillo municipality.

Boca Escalera was one of the first communities where the Clean Water Program had presence since the program started, installing one Manual Chlorinator (water purifier) in 2013, benefiting 296 people living in 77 homes with safe water. At that time the CAPS (Drinking Water and Sanitation Committee) was being directed by Serapio, who did an excellent job in the administration, maintenance and operation of the rural water system (Aqueduct), working hand to hand with the Clean Water Program since 2010.

Serapio remained approximately 6 years as leader of the CAPS board committee (something that is not common because according to the regulations of the Nicaraguan Water Law, the committee leaders must be replaced every two years), but in this case Serapio showed to be a person who is very active and responsible with the population, so whenever there were changes of directives members, the people of his community requested him to remain as president of CAPS, something that he continued doing with great pleasure, in 2017 Serapio left his position as president due to disagreements with some other CAPS members and opted to travel to Costa Rica to work there. It was then that the chlorinator installed by the Self-Help International Clean Water Program stopped working because the new CAPS managers considered that to treat the water was not so relevant to keep the water purified, doing other things on their own that did not favor the population in general.

While these new CAPS directives were in place, the Technician of the Clean Water Program directed by Self – Help International lost communication with Serapio and looked for a way to contact the new directors for the follow-up and maintenance of water chlorination, making it quite difficult to find them, incurring in resources and time in the follow-up visits to convince them of the importance of chlorinating the water in their community.

The Clean Water Program Officer made several inspection and technical follow-up visits to urge the CAPS directors at that time to chlorinate the water and prevent infectious diseases transmitted by the contamination of raw water; but the current leaders did not take much importance to the exhortation, and continued supplying raw water to the population of the community.

Later on the people of Boca de Escalera went for approximately 6 years without drinking chlorinated water, since Serapio left, no one felt safe drinking that raw water, because they felt waterborne diseases and the conditions of supply and provision of water were precarious due to poor management of the managers of that period, as they did not take importance to the chlorination of the water.

And, in one of the many meetings that the people had to talk about the problems they were having with the water, they looked for a way to contact the Clean Water Program Officer once again to help them to convince to the CAPS board of directors that it was necessary to use the chlorination system again and therefore the use of regular chlorine tablets so that they can feel safe when drinking that water, then, water quality tests were carried out in the school faucet and in some other houses of the community, resulting positive contamination, due to the sediments from the source and lack of chlorination in the tank that distributes the water to the houses connected by PVC pipes.

This situation prompted the population to request Serapio’s leadership so that he would once again be president of CAPS, who was already back in the community. As of the year 2022, Serapio assumed the position of president of the CAPS and since then he has been working on restoring the water system, repairing the water intakes, changing pipes and improving the water storage tanks.

Starting 2023, Serapio looked for how to contact the Self – Help International Clean Water Program officer to reactivate the chlorination of the water, and he did so through the person in charge of the Boca de Sábalos Chlorine Bank, who provided him the Clean Water Program Officer phone number, and they (Serapio and the Program Officer) made contact again. The result was a technical inspection visit by the Clean Water Program Officer to find out the conditions of the water distribution tanks and analyze the installation of a new chlorinator.

The installation of the chlorinator was approved in a community assembly, attended by the majority of the beneficiaries and users of the water system, who were already tired of drinking raw water and needed that this water be sanitized through chlorination.

Currently as of April 13, 2023, the 85 houses and the 350 people as residents of Boca de Escalera, are drinking 15,000 liters per day of safe water again, thanks to the management of their CAPS leader, and the availability of the Clean Water Program promoted by Self-Help International, which is always willing to help and transmit knowledge and technologies to make drinking water safe for human consumption.

Serapio, as president of the Boca de Escalera CAPS, says he is very happy and satisfied to provide safe water to the population of the community, and he is very grateful to Self-Help International for once again helping this rural community to have saved drinking water.