You are here

Habitat addresses water and sanitation needs in Nicaragua

August 15, 2011

Habitat for Humanity Nicaragua is helping to improve the living conditions of 234 families living in the community of La Gallina, through the construction of adequate housing and a community water system.




Women from the community of La Gallina, washing their clothes in the river.

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (August 15, 2011)
– It is estimated that 30 percent of Nicaraguans live in overcrowded housing. Some 45 percent of houses have dirt floors, and many have inadequate, leaking roofs. Basic housing services are also severely lacking.

In addition, only 40 percent of homes in the country have access to water through plumbing, 30 percent obtain water through wells, rivers or public fountains. Only 25 percent of homes have toilets, while 60 percent must meet their sanitation needs through a private or public latrine according to 2005 census figures from the Institute of Urban and Rural Housing (INVUR).

This is the case in the municipality of San Rafael del Sur, which sits 29 miles from Managua. With 42,417 residents, its population density is at 305 people per square mile. It is here where the community “La Gallina” is located.




Residents of La Gallina must travel long distances to get water for human consumption.

Despite the efforts of Habitat for Humanity Nicaragua to improve the housing conditions of the people in this community, there is still concern regarding access to clean drinking water and sanitary conditions.

To address the situation, Habitat for Humanity Nicaragua, in conjunction with Plan Nicaragua and the municipality of San Rafael del Sur, conducted a socio-economic study to demonstrate the most pressing needs of the population and propose solutions to address them.

This study revealed the contamination of water sources in the community, primarily caused by household use and the presence of agro-chemicals from crops cultivated in the region. The study also identified a large number of cases of kidney disease caused by poor water quality and other environmental factors.

The residents of La Gallina must also travel long distances to obtain water for human consumption, from the few wells that exist in the area.

Habitat for Humanity Nicaragua has defined two key proposals to continue its support in the community of La Gallina:

  • Water and sanitation. Install a water system that will supply drinking water to each household through pipes connected to a high-capacity well. This well will provide enough water for the projected population for the next 20 years. The project also includes training and community organization to maintain the system.
  • Construction. Continue phase two of construction, totaling 100 houses and starting in 2012.

Maria Leonarda Aguilar, 51, is a resident from the community La Gallina. Like many in this community, she manifests her need for potable water. She repeatedly has to see a doctor because of severe pain in her kidneys and the daily discomfort from carrying out her chores. She has no choice but to quench her thirst with the water available in the community – the same water that the villagers use to wash their clothes, cook, bathe and clean their homes.

Due to a lack of latrines, most of the residents defecate outdoors, further polluting the water sources.

According to data compiled by the World Health Organization, improving water supply, sanitation, hygiene and proper management of water resources can prevent nearly 10 percent of global diseases.

Habitat for Humanity Nicaragua is seeking funding allies to help raise the US$258,000 needed for the project. For more information regarding this or other projects, please contact

About Habitat for Humanity Latin America and the Caribbean
Habitat for Humanity first opened its doors in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in 1979, and has since helped more than 100,000 low-income families to access adequate housing in the region. Headquartered in San Jose, Costa Rica, the Latin America and Caribbean regional office coordinates the efforts of 16 national organizations, as well as unique partnerships throughout the region. For more information, visit

Learn more about Habitat for Humanity in Latin America and the Caribbean.