Water Wars

How does it feel to live without water at your fingertips as soon as you open the faucet? Could you live on 1 barrel of water per week to cook food three times a day, water crops twice a day and wash clothes once a week? And drink of course!

This is everyday life for many Nicaraguans. Many farmers, families, and even whole communities in Nicaragua are experiencing severe drought from climate change and manmade destructive activities. In 2012 Nicaragua obtained a permit to export dragon fruit and pineapple to the US, Europe and Canada. Even though pineapple and dragon fruit are not the main causes of the drought, their cultivation is exacerbating the effects of climate change in this area. Medium to large agribusinesses are deforesting more and more land to convert to mono-culture fields. And the small scale farmers are becoming poorer due to agribusinesses depleting natural resources.

panama water 3

Pictured above is Panama, a community near Masaya Volcano. This community traditionally cultivates dragon fruit and pineapple. The environmental conditions in Panama are ideal for these crops. Other sources of income are scarce as sulfuric gases from the Masaya volcano make it impossible to grow anything else. Many families – mostly boys – migrate to pick coffee. But what about water? Panamanians receive one or two barrels of water from the government.  When their needs are not met, families buy water at 5 dollars per barrel – which is equivalent to a farmer’s daily wage.

Just 30 minutes away from Panama, live the residents of Palo Solo. This neighborhood’s panoramic view comes at a steep price of no running water. Damaged landscapes are seen throughout Palo Solo. The wells have dried up and the trees have been cut down by the agribusiness to plant full sun dragon fruit.

palo solo water 1

To help alleviate the stress of not having enough water, La Mariposa and Asociacion Tierra have taken small but critical steps to help. In April 2016 Enrique, a group leader for Caitlin Gable High School, volunteered at Panama Primary School with four of his students. He asked Paulette if he could help deliver water to the primary school. Jorge, Panama Primary School librarian, helped us coordinate this. Thanks to Enrique’s suggestion, Panama and its 190 students receive enough drinking water. The total monthly cost of delivering water is $140.

Similarily families in Palo Solo receive two extra barrels a week. Before the cooperative of Palo Solo asked us for help, one family had to survive only one barrel of water per week. This is approx 5 gallons of water per day for total consumption.

What’s next?

La Mariposa and Asociacion Tierra will continue to deliver water to Palo Solo and Panama when we can, but we need your help. The best way to support us is recommending La Mariposa and Asociacion Tierra. We offer packages for high school or university groups to take a course in Global Health and Environmental Conservation. Students will receive 20 hours of Spanish class with an environmental focus and 20 hours of volunteer work in our projects (reforestation in Cañada Honda, permaculture gardening at La Finca, beach clean ups, and primary school environmental education, etc). Weekend and afternoon exercusions include swimming in a crater lake, hiking a volcano, feeding wildlife, playing soccer with local environmental youth groups, participating in a discussion about The Canal, and more!


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