The story of a mayor's call to action for sustainable change
For rural communities like Waslala, Nicaragua, support from local and international partners can change the lives of thousands of people.
Waslala is a remote region in central Nicaragua. Most of its 65,000 residents, who live in rural villages outside the city centre, lack access to even the most basic human needs, including clean water and sanitation.* Jermán Vargas, mayor of Waslala, was well-aware of this issue: “The water consumed by the people of Waslala was dirty, murky water. It was not fit for consumption.”
Waslala's mayor sought to make a difference for thousands of people.
The mayor’s dream of ensuring lasting access to clean water and sanitation was shared by local and international organizations, who came together to build a new, innovative water treatment plant and engage community members using One Drop Foundation’s Social Art for Behaviour Change (SABC) approach. With financial support from Medicor Foundation and Latter-day Saint Charities, implementing partners (One Drop Foundation and WaterAid) worked in close collaboration with the municipal government of Waslala and Agua para el Pueblo Honduras, enhancing expertise, knowledge transfer, and technical assistance.
By carrying out theatrical tours of the play Tranquilo Tranquilino and co-creating a mosaic mural, this ecosystem of partners, Leaders of Change, and community members were able to raise awareness around the importance of paying the water tariff, which would ensure the sustainability of the project.
“We are going to have treated water, good water, quality water, which we didn’t have before. For the first time in the history of Waslala, we are going to have a plant with this quality of water.” - Jermán Vargas, mayor of Waslala
Through interventions tailored to the context of each Lazos de Agua project, the One Drop Foundation’s SABC approach was able to facilitate spaces for reflection and mobilize people towards the adoption of healthy practices related to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). In Nicaragua, SABC interventions enabled communities to take ownership of their projects, such as the water treatment plant, and thus contribute to its sustainability.
“Mosaic murals, the theatres, all of this helps to change the mentality of the community that has to make the project sustainable. Everyone pays for their water, for what they spend, and then also makes good use of the water service.” - Jermán Vargas, mayor of Waslala
Today, nearly 4,000 people from seven neighbourhoods in Waslala have access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene. The SDGs can only be met if we work together, through international partnerships and social art activities that enable lasting change.
*Wateraid. Water for Waslala. https://www.wateraid.org/us/water-for-waslala