Leadership Program Inspires Nicaraguans to Bring Water and Electricity to Their Village

After participating in a Community Leadership & Management Program run by MSH, the leaders of Pantasma, Nicaragua came together, despite past political differences, to lay the pipes to bring water to two neighborhoods and raise the resources that brought electricity and a bridge to this rural agricultural community 250 kilometers from Managua. In 2008 the Community Committee in El Charcón No.1 mobilized 120 people to work together, without pay, to lay the 8,168 meters of pipe necessary to bring water to each household. Previously, the women of the village had to walk one kilometer to the river to collect water. A second group led a simultaneous effort in El Charcón No. 2. The result: 346 families now have clean water in their homes.

One of the leaders, Apolinar Gutiérrez, commented on the difficulties of undertaking the water project during one of the harshest winters in years: “Some people thought we were crazy when we proposed the project, but most believed in us. . . . Our daily task—to dig a trench 10 meters long, 85 centimeters deep, and 80 centimeters wide—was made harder because heavy rains had thickened the mud, or water buried what we had dug and we had to clean it out. Sometimes we thought we were crazy. . . . We worked for four months.”

[Members of the Pantasma community gather in front of their water structure. Photo by MSH staff.]Members of the Pantasma community gather in front of their water structure. Photo by MSH staff.The community mobilized more than half a million dollars from the municipality and international donors for the water project.  The community also built a bridge to connect an isolated neighborhood of Pantasma to the rest of the community. Before the building of the bridge, many people were injured trying to cross the river during the rainy season.

Although the community was very divided during the civil war in the 1980s, when neighbor fought against neighbor, people’s attitudes were transformed after they participated in the Community Leadership & Management Program. Through Caminar juntos para crecer juntos (Walking Together to Grow Together), part of the PRONICASS project, community leaders learned to apply management tools and put their values into practice to increase their social capital.

Each community drew a “tree of dreams” to create a shared vision for the community. The community leaders used what they learned in the program to organize and strengthen Community Committees, which took the lead on community development initiatives.

The people of Pantasma now have the resources, including clean water, to enable them to lead healthier lives. And they will continue to benefit from having learned to “walk together” as a united community.