Somotillo Region Five Water Well Project

Clean fresh water, a resource that’s taken for granted in Canada

Communities of Las Mesitas, El Danto, Las Pilas, El Papalón and La Danta

Pictured here is one of the shallow hand dug wells that generally does not produce water at the end of the dry season.

Project

Description

The Somotillo Region Five Water Well and Distribution Project will see the installation of five new water wells in communities where existing wells are no longer producing during the dry season or there is insufficient capacity to supply the village. The project will include an elevated storage tank, electric well pump and water distribution piping to each home in the communities.

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Objectives
  • Guarantee the use of quality water in each of the 5 communities by:
    • Phase 1 ‐ Drilling of a well in an area where the underground source is not contaminated.
    • Phase II ‐ Installation of water distribution network piping to homes in the community.
  • Provide access to drinking water for family use, thereby avoiding the use and intake of contaminated water.
  • Facilitate housework for housewives by eliminating the need to transport the vital liquid distances of between 260 and 500 meters from their home to the newly installed well.
  • Contribute to the eradication of intestinal and epidermal infections.
  • Promote community work through active participation in the execution of the project.
  • Eliminate the need to transport daily water long distances from the neighboring community
Justification

The Dry Corridor of Nicaragua covers a large part of west central Nicaragua and is located in the departments of León and Chinandega. Of the 153 municipalities in the country, 33 are located in this Dry Corridor area, with Somotillo and Villanueva being part of them.

The inhabitants of these municipalities suffer the most from climate change. The current atmospheric conditions cause droughts that affect the crops and the living conditions of the people.

Water in these communities is sourced from underground aquifers that are not being replenished to normal levels during the rainy season. Deforestation and longer dry seasons are contributing factors that cause shallow hand dug wells to dry up forcing people to walk to a neighboring community for their daily water.

It was the abundance of water from these shallow wells that created these small communities which have existed for generations. With the change in global weather patterns these wells are drying up and causing people to migrate in search for new sources – an impossible task for people who don’t have the means.

Today people have been forced to dig small wells on the banks of streams or ravines to obtain water that will be used for family consumption. This exposes them to infections from ingesting water that may be contaminated. There has been a noticeable rise in water related infections for people in these communities.

Shallow poorly designed wells are also subjected to contamination during flash floods in the rainy season which renders them useless for human consumption.

Another consequence of the changing times are children remaining home from school during the dry season to help their families transport water from a neighboring community. This is not easy task in the hilly rugged north of the country.

The benefit of this project in these communities will be huge. To have a tap that delivers fresh drinkable water next to each home is a dream that many people thought they would never see in their life time.

Impact on the Beneficiary Communities

The execution of this project will provide these communities with:

  • An improvement in the quality of life through the use of water that is suitable for human consumption.
  • Eradication of intestinal and skin infections which are usually caused by ingestion or contact with contaminated water.
  • Improved neck and back ailments of housewives and children by eliminating the need to carry cans of water on their heads and shoulders long distances to their homes.
  • Increased school attendance of children and young people

Members of the benefiting communities were asked to provide a letter of support for this project. The letters include a signature from the representative of each household that will receive service to their home. At the end of each document is a translation of the cover letter provided by a representative of the community.

Four communities responded to the request; Las Mesitas, Las Pilas, El Papalon and El Danto.

Expected Results
  • 1,069 people represented in 258 families, consuming quality water.
  • Improved health for women, youth and children.
  • Improved use of time in productive, educational and household activities by eliminating the transportation of water
  • Community ownership and responsibilities that come with taking care of the water systems received.
  • Water Committees in each community working actively in the rational use of the vital liquid, supported by the community thereby guaranteeing the good functioning and sustainability of the project.

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About the Communities

Housing & Living Conditions

There are many impoverished communities throughout Nicaragua but the ones in this region rank high on the list due to their remote locations and the ruggedness of the countryside.

Somotillo, the largest city closest to these remote communities is located approximately 5 kms south of the Honduran border in the western part of Nicaragua. The benefiting communities are located east and south of Somotillo.

Steep rocky hills cover the area with valleys consisting of dried river and creek beds. During the rainy season, the area is inundated with flash floods throughout the region.

Housing varies widely due to the economic conditions of the people. Poorer families live in makeshift homes with walls consisting of plastic and other sheet materials while others are made of handmade clay blocks that are sun dried and made locally. The majority of homes have dirt floors and small animals such as chickens, cats and dogs run freely throughout the community.

Population

Detail of the age ranges of the population according to a census taken in each community:

Economic Activity

The municipalities are primarily involved in agriculture and raising of livestock.

They grow corn, beans, sesame, wheat and sorghum million (variety of sorghum) mainly for family consumption. Any surplus is marketed on a small scale.

Breeding of cattle of Creole origin occurs on a small scale due to lack of technology.

In these areas not all producers have their own land to carry out agricultural practices. Some rent plots to work and produce basic products for family consumption, and the surplus if any is brought to the local market.

Housewives perform the majority of work which includes:

  • Raising of pigs and yard birds (chicken and ducks), production is intended for family consumption
  • Family gardens: in this practice they grow tomatoes, chiltoma, ayote, pipián, corn and watermelon
  • Small businesses: they sell goods for consumption in the home that are not produced in the communities (rice, oil, sugar, sanitary paper, etc.)

Roles and Responsibilities

Roots of Change Foundation

The Foundation, based in St. Albert Alberta, is responsible for raising the funds needed to complete this multi-phase project. Individuals, corporations and service clubs will be solicited for donations through fundraising events and mail out campaigns. Grants and donation matching will also form part of our fundraising efforts

We are registered as a charitable society with the Canada Revenue Agency and are responsible for over site of our agent FUNDACCO who administers and carries out projects and activities based on an ‘Agent Agreement’ that governs our relationship.

FUNDACCO

FUNDACCO is registered in Nicaragua as a charitable society with a mandate to carry out the missionary work of our founder Father Denis Hebert. Their governing documents and objectives are the same as that of the Roots of Change.

FUNDACCO is responsible for administration and direction of the entire project from the development stage through to monitoring and follow‐up after its completion. They work closely with community members and other stakeholders of the project to insure the project is delivered on schedule and within budget.

Maintaining accurate financial records and documentation for all expenses is part of their mandate as well as providing the Roots of Change with status and other reports as it relates to the project.

Community Involvement/Responsibilities

With assistance and under the direction of FUNDACCO members of the community will take an active part in the project. A Water Committee will be created and given the mandate to provide direction and administration for part of the project. One of their primary roles is to act as liaison between benefiting community members and FUNDACCO.

Active participation from the community is a requirement in the execution of the project as it servers as a means of ownership and responsibility for the benefit coming to their village.

Before: The process of organization of the inhabitants of the communities to carry out the work that is required for the project.

During: Time when the beneficiaries carry out community work, actively participating in the execution of the project in the different tasks required.

After: Once the project is finished, the beneficiaries maintain the water systems under direction of the Water Committees of each community.

The mandate of the Water Committee includes:

  • Present legal documents of the areas where the community wells will be located as well as the location of the water receiving tanks.
  • The administration of a fee paid by community members that will allow them to assume expenses of electric power, maintenance of the pump, the water receiver tank and repair of the water distribution network, if warranted.
  • Management of the water system after it is completed

Monitoring and Evaluation

FUNDACCO will maintain communication with the Water Committee of each community, assisting them and providing direction as needed for a period of a year after completion of the project.

The Roots of Change Foundation will visit and evaluate completed projects as part of their yearly audit trip to Nicaragua.

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Project Details

Current Water Conditions

Existing water wells in communities that will benefit from this project come in two basic styles; hand dug or drilled wells.

Hand dug wells are shallow and subject to contamination during the rainy season due to flooding. Many are on private property and don’t necessarily supply the general population although during the dry season people do share this precious resource if they can and there is a sufficient supply.

Drilled wells are community wells and are considerably deeper. Water is stored in aquifers consisting of fractured rock that has limited storage capability.

Las Mesitas: 184 people ‐ 44 families

There are no drilled wells in this community with only two wells that have been dug by hand. In summer, one well dries up and the other is left to supply the population of the community which does not produce a sufficient supply.

El Danto: 205 people ‐ 47 families

There are two drilled wells in this community, one located in the main square of the village and the other at the community school. Neither of these wells have the capacity during the summer to supply sufficient water for the community.

El Papalón: 234 people ‐ 49 families

This community also does not have any drilled wells only shallow had dug wells. Like the other communities, in summer they dry up and people have to walk to the neighboring community to get their water.

La Danta: 161 people ‐ 46 families

The inhabitants of this community only have hand dug wells and these also dry up during the dry season.

Las Pillas ‐ Sectors I and II: 285 people ‐ 72 families

There is one drilled well that does not have the capacity to supply water to all homes mainly due to population growth in the community.

Legality of the Properties

The lands where the wells will be drilled and the water receiving tanks installed will be donated by the inhabitants of these properties. These parcels are then registered in their respective municipal governments through a legal process with the land owners. Upon completion, the parcels become the property of the community.

Hydrological Data

The zone presents typical characteristics of tertiary geological formations and the stratigraphy is formed by layers of different semi compressed rock with layers that are very compressed, fractured, and unstable.

The aquifer is composed of fractures with normally low transmissivities. The performance of the aquifer will depend on the transmissibility of the formations found during drilling.

As part of the project a hydrological study will be made in each of the five communities. The study along with existing municipal data will be used to determine the ideal location for each well. This study comes at a cost of $200 (US) per location.

Well Construction Overview
  • Depth: 200 feet
  • Hole: 10″ diameter
  • Pumping test: Pumping tests will be performed for a period of 8 hours to check the performance of the well. The test will be made with pumping equipment and a power plant provided by the well contractor.
  • Well Lining: PVC pipe SDR 26 ‐ 6 ” diameter, blind type and slotted in the area of productive aquifer.
  • Gravel filter: River gravel or pebbles will be placed in the space between the pipe lining and the hole.
  • Sanitary Seal: To avoid contamination of the inside of the well with surface and residual waters, a sanitary seal will be built in a length of 20′ ending in the concrete base.
  • Concrete base: Concrete base of 2′ x 2′ x 1.5′ will be built to support the pumping equipment that will be installed.

The well drilling contractor will provide a detailed report of each well and the ground formation encountered during digging. An example of the report is shown below.

Water Distribution and Piping

The needs for distribution in these communities very by location. Four of the communities have a high hill in a convenient location where a distribution storage tank will be placed while the Casa Blanca village
requires the construction of a tower to raise the tank to provide sufficient water pressure for the community.

Four of the communities will receive a 7,500 liter tank while Las Pilas will see the installation of a 10,000 liter tank.

Each community will receive a distribution network of piping from the storage tank to each residence in the community. A water tap will be located in close proximity to the home which will eliminate the long
distances transporting water by hand.

An electrical service will be brought to each well location and well pump will be install to supply water to the storage tank. From the tank, gravity is used to distribute water to the community.

The capacity of the wells being installed in these communities are not able to supply an unlimited amount of water to each household. Calculations are made based on how much the well will produce and the water is rationed. A series of lockable manual valves placed in strategic locations are used and managed by the Water Committee to insure equal and fair distribution to homes in the community.

All the manual labor to dig trenching for the underground piping will be done by community members under the direction of technicians who are trained in the installation of these systems.

Local members of the community experienced in construction will erect the tower and bases needed to support the water tanks.

Timeline

These five communities as well as many others in the region suffer tremendous hardships due to the lack of water during the dry season which runs from December through May each year.

Drilling of the water wells is best done near the end of the dry season which will give a good indication as to the gallons per minute a well will produce during the worst time of the year.

Underground distribution piping for obvious reasons is also best done during the dry season.

Our window of opportunity to help these communities this year (2020) is quickly coming to a close and progress on the project is dependent entirely on the funding we receive through our fundraising efforts.

To facilitate advancement of the project, 10 phases have been identified and can be carried out separately based on the funding raised. Each of the five communities will have two phases, the drilling of the well and then installation of the tank and distribution piping.

Our goal is to have the entire project complete by May of 2021

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Budget

For a breakdown of each phase identified below please click here

Casa BlancaEl DantoEl PapalonLa DantaLas Pilas
Phase 1 – Water Well$9,020$9,512$9,020$9,020$9,512
Phase 2 – Distribution Piping and Water Tank$11,057$12,728$15,331$11,027$14,714
Project Budget ($USD)

For a printable copy of this proposal please click here

For additional or more detailed information on this project contact Rick LeBlanc