Rainwater harvesting


For many rural communities in Western Nicaragua, access to water is a challenge. The problem is particularly acute for those communities located high up amongst the volcanic hills of the Telica-Rota Protected Area, where some families face a daily three hour journey on foot or horseback to collect water to meet only their most basic needs, from the nearest source located more than 3 km away for some, consuming time and energy to the detriment of farming and education.

Nuevas Esperanzas has promoted the concept of rainwater harvesting in several communities located within the Telica-Rota Protected Area, where rainwater harvesting is the only viable solution to the water needs of some of them. The climate of this area is such that plentiful supplies of rainwater can be collected from roofs during the wet season, but the real challenge is to store sufficient water to last for the five months of the dry season and to protect this water from contamination.

The systems promoted by Nuevas Esperanzas have large, closed, ferrocement tanks designed to let rainwater in but keep mosquitoes out. The technique used to construct these ferrocement tanks is simple and only locally available materials and basic hand tools are needed. The tanks are robust and can last for thirty years or more. Collection of rainwater is sustainable, environmentally friendly, relatively simple, and cost-effective.

With your help, we want to raise £4,000 to build a new 40,000 litre rainwater harvesting tank in Agua Fría, the highest and largest community on the slopes of the Telica Volcano.


Help us to build a new 40,000 litre rainwater harvesting tank - £4,000



Access Roads Improvement


One of the greatest challenges faced by the communities on the slopes of the Telica volcano is their physical isolation and remoteness. Access is difficult whether by horseback or in a 4x4 vehicle. For families in these communities this means it is harder to reach health centres and schools, harder to get harvests to market and harder to evacuate in the event of an eruption of the volcano. The active crater is less than 1 km away for some and powerful explosions in 2011 and in 2015 led to evacuations of many villagers on these hillsides.

Poor roads and trails also affect the successful delivery of development projects, as vehicle access is necessary in order to transport materials. Difficult access routes also considerably increase the time it takes to get to the communities and sometimes entire days are lost due to problems in reaching the villages.

Improving access is an essential, though much overlooked aspect of rural development. Improving access to the hillside communities in Telica will have a positive impact on both current activities and future projects working to fight poverty. Work on improving access is almost always supported by impressively high levels of community participation, such is its importance to communities. In Participatory Rural Appraisals whole families expressed the need for better access. The children want to be able to get to school faster. The women would like to be able to feel safer on horseback when they need to take children to the doctor or if they are going to give birth. The men want to be able to use an ox and cart instead of horses all year round to take their harvests to market more quickly. And of course, Nuevas Esperanzas would like to be able to reach the communities more quickly and safely with less damage to its vehicles.

The challenges of access also seem to discourage NGOs from working in these remote communities. Currently Nuevas Esperanzas is the only organisation with a permanent presence. Work on improving access routes has been going on since 2009, but in most cases the budget was only enough to provide temporary access to facilitate transporting materials.

This project will provide a longer term solution to the problems of access to the community of Agua Fría. It will make transporting traditional crops to market easier as well as facilitating the marketing of products from model farms and honey from the apiaries which were introduced through Nuevas Esperanzas agroecology programme over the last few years. These projects aim to diversify production and provide alternative sources of income for the communities in an environmentally sustainable way. This project will help farmers from Agua Fría transport their produce to the point of sale.

Agua Fría was the community most affected by the volcanic eruptions in 2011 and 2015. The only existing evacuation route was directly hit by airborne incandescent rocks weighing more than 100 kg during the eruptions in 2015. These rocks travelled as far as 1.5 km from the volcano. Although the majority of the community lives further from the crater, the existing evacuation routes means that they would have to go towards the erupting volcano in order to be reach rescue vehicles, taking them to within 500 metres of the crater. Improving the access road to El Caracol would facilitate an evacuation of Agua Fría in the only sensible direction away from the erupting volcano!

The method used to improve these rural access routes is relatively simple and environmentally friendly. It is not a matter of creating new roads, rather of protecting current routes from erosion and making them easily passable for vehicles. The first step is to identify the most critical sections, usually rocky, steep or uneven stretches, stretches with soft of loose ground where vehicles lose traction (especially during the wet season) or areas where strong currents wash earth away and create deep ditches. These sections of the road are covered with carefully laid stones to create a firm base which is then cemented over. Where necessary, gabions are built. These gabions act as highly effective and environmentally sensitive retaining walls which permit the water to pass through without causing erosion. The manual labour is provided by the beneficiary communities while Nuevas Esperanzas provides materials, logistical support and project supervision.

With your help, we want to raise £5,000 to improve eight stretches of severely damaged road on the way to Agua Fría, which helps people to travel faster and more safely.


Help us to improve the mountain access road to Agua Fría in eight severely damaged stretches - £5,000



Family Farms


Model farms were established in the communities in 2014, the first of two years of severe drought. However, despite the serious problems this drought meant for the farmers and their families and the fact that most of the dozen new trial crops did not survive, this was a perfect opportunity for the pineapple and the dragon fruit to prove their amazing drought-resistance gaining everyone's trust. These plants not only survived but also produced a harvest, albeit a modest one which was a little delayed.

Since then, families have been growing pineapple and dragon fruit on their own land, applying the techniques learned in the model farms and gradually increasing the number of plants, with good results despite the limited assistance received due to constraints in resources. However despite the good, natural reproduction potential of these crops, one model farm for a whole community is just too small and the rate of growth of family gardens is limited by the vegetative material available from the model farms for replanting in the communities.

Last year crops were affected by heavy rainfall and acid rain due to volcanic gases. The impact on all crops was extensive and sadly included the main traditional crops of corn and beans. However, once again the pineapple and dragon fruit survived intact, and actually the acid rain helped as a natural way of weeding pineapple. During a visit to assess the crop loss, people reflected on the potential benefit of having more pineapples and dragon fruits, but everyone concluded that the existing number of plants is just too small to live off.

Therefore, the next step is quite simple: to replicate the model farms experience at a larger scale, reaching family (or groups of two or three families) levels so the income level from these crops can be more significant. Dragon fruit plants and some production materials have been provided to 40 groups which include around 55 families in three communities.

With your help, we want to raise £3,400 to provide agricultural supplies and technical assistance for the 40 family farms established on 2019.


Help us to provide agricultural supplies and technical assistance for 40 family farms - £3,400





Families living on the slopes of the Telica Volcano face daily challenges to make a living from their land. Here people do not go out to work in a school or office to earn the money they need to support themselves, they live off the land and that means big challenges. Families are often separated when the men are forced to leave the country to look for work and send money home.

But at last there is a glimmer of hope. Beekeeping has been now successfully introduced. It is nine years since we undertook our first pilot beekeeping project in the communities on the slopes of the Telica Volcano. Back then beekeeping was new to the families who are todays enthusiastic beekeepers and it has made a big difference. No-one cuts down trees to get at a small quantity of honey anymore. Instead the beekeepers work to protect the forest knowing that the more bee-friendly trees there are, the more honey they will produce. Thanks to the bees income has increased and family nutrition has improved too.

Beekeeping has become well-established and as more people take up the challenge and learn these new skills, there is a growing opportunity to bring in extra income. This will help keep families together and build a more sustainable future for those so vulnerable to the climatic conditions which can destroy a harvest in a few days.

With your help, we want to raise £2,600 to establish an additional apiary with six hives to train a new group of beekeepers who will have a new, environmentally friendly source of income.


Help us to establish an additional apiary with six hives to train a new group of beekeepers - £2,600



It is very encouraging to hear from the people we have worked with over the last 14 years about the difference that these projects have made in their lives, but there are still many families to reach and many needs to address. Despite the challenges, we are confident and determined to keep working to see these families’ livelihoods continue to thrive. Could you help us with any (or all) of these projects? Would you #HelpTelicaThrive


Past Projects



Family Gardens for Food Security

Promoting crop diversification through family gardens to increase food security

Location:  El Ojochal del Listón, Telica

Duration:  April 2012  present

Beneficiaries:  37

Project cost:  $4,954

Donors:  Shel-Mar Farms, USA; Wells Country Farm Bureau, USA; other private donors

pdf-small Review August 2012


Mountain Rain III

Rainwater harvesting for five communities in the Maribios volcanoes

Location:  El Ñajo, El Caracol, Agua Fría, El Ojochal & El Perpetuo, Telica

Duration:  March 2012 – present

Beneficiaries:  240

Project cost:  $60,000

Donor:  Georg Fischer Clean Water Foundation, Switzerland

pdf-small  Project proposal


Action against arsenic

Pilot project to introduce filters for families with arsenic contaminated water

Location:  Unión España, Nuevo Amanecer, Bella Vista & Ocotón, Telica

Duration:  January 2012 – present

Beneficiaries:  115

Project cost:  $9,000

Donor:  Oxford-León Association and Trust, UK

pdf-smallProject proposal



El Ñajo road

Improvements to access to the hillside community of El Ñajo

Location:  El Ñajo, Telica

Duration:  January 2012 – present

Beneficiaries:  43

Project cost:  $14,444

Donor:  M Night Shyamalan Foundation, USA

pdf-smallFinal report


Family Gardens & Extensionist Training

Training families and a visiting extensionist to grow biointensive family gardens

Location:  El Ñajo, Telica

Duration:  November 2011  March 2012

Beneficiaries:  44

Project cost:  $4,339

Donors:  Gettysburg-León Project, Nicaragua; Young Grower Alliance, USA; St. James Church; USA

pdf-small  Final report


Spring cleaning in Agua Fría

Improvements to spring protection and construction of a storage tank

Location:  Agua Fría, Telica

Duration:  February 2011 – December 2012

Beneficiaries:  292

Project cost:  $8,500

Donor:  Oxford-León Association and Trust, UK

pdf-smallFinal report




Telica Arsenic Study

An investigation into the extent, causes and effects of arsenic pollution

Location:  Municipality of Telica

Duration:  November 2010 – December 2011

Beneficiaries:  1145

Project cost:  $40,953

Donors:  PAHO/WHO, Nicaragua; Pantaleón, Nicaragua; Grupo Pellas, Nicaragua; Oxford-León Trust, UK, Friends of Students for 60,000, USA

pdf-smallProject proposal



Nuevo Amanecer rainwater harvesting

Rainwater harvesting for a school in Nuevo Amanecer

Location:  Nuevo Amanecer, Telica

Duration:  August – October  2010

Beneficiaries:  251

Project cost:  $5,462

Donor:  Friends of Students for 60,000, USA



Mountain Rain II

Rainwater harvesting for two communities in the Maribios volcanoes

Location:  El Ojochal - La Joya & Agua Fría, Telica

Duration:  July – December  2010

Beneficiaries:  90

Project cost:  $17,409

Donor:  American Nicaraguan Foundation, Nicaragua



Bees for conservation

Training in beekeeping in four hillside communities

Location:  Agua Fría, El Caracol, El Ojochal del Listón & El Ñajo, Telica

Duration:  June 2010 – present

Beneficiaries:  80

Project cost:  $30,600

Donor:  New Hope Llantwit Major, UK



Water supply and distribution system

Design and installation of a new water system

Location:  La Unión & Nuevo Amanecer, Telica

Duration: March 2010 – present

Beneficiaries:  953

Project cost:  $152,200

Donors:  Mayor of Telica, Nicaragua; Friends of Students for 60,000, USA

pdf-smallHydrogeological study
(Spanish only)


Forests and fires

Prevention of forest fires and reforestation in the Telica-Rota Protected Area

Location:  El Ojochal del Listón, Telica

Duration:  January 2010 – February 2011

Beneficiaries:  115

Project cost:  $16,166

Donors:  private donors



Growing family gardens

Training women to grow organic family gardens with drip irrigation

Location:  El Ojochal del Listón, Telica

Duration:  November 2009 – June 2010

Beneficiaries:  75

Project cost:  $13,145

Donors: St Paul’s and St George’s Church, Edinburgh, UK; other private donors



Water prospecting in Estelí

Hydrogeological investigations in three remote communities

Location:  Los Limones, Rodeo Grande & La Montañita, San Nicolás

Duration:  September – October 2009

Beneficiaries:  850

Project cost:  $4,921

Donors:  World Vision, Nicaragua

pdf-smallFinal report
(Spanish only)



El Ojochal latrines

Construction of 26 latrines in a remote hillside community

Location:  El Ojochal del Listón, Telica

Duration:  August 2009

Beneficiaries:  115

Project cost:  $5,005

Donors:  American Nicaraguan Foundation, Nicaragua; other private donors



Land rights for La Palmerita

Surveying and distribution of 153 lots of agricultural land for displaced coffee workers

Location:  La Palmerita, Malpaisillo

Duration:  January 2009 – July 2011

Beneficiaries:  765

Project cost:  $31,916

Donors:  Oxford-León Association and Trust, UK; other private donors



El Ojoche rainwater harvesting

Rainwater harvesting and spring improvements for a rural community

Location:  El Ojoche, Somotillo, Chinandega

Duration:  September 2008 – July 2011

Beneficiaries:  485

Project cost:  $31,559

Donors:  Food for the Hungry, Nicaragua; Rotary Club of León, Nicaragua



Mountain Rain I

Rainwater harvesting in five communities in the Maribios volcanoes

Location: Volcán Telica, Cerro Rota, Telica

Duration:  July 2008 – November 2009

Beneficiaries:  571

Project cost:  $88,778

Donor:  Georg Fischer Clean Water Foundation, Switzerland

pdf-smallFinal report







Rainwater harvesting for beginners

Training local builders through the construction of a model rainwater tank

Location: Gracias a Dios, San Jacinto, Telica

Duration:  July – December 2008

Beneficiaries:  9

Project cost:  $5,088

Donor: Oxford-León Trust, UK

pdf-smallFinal report



A way up the mountain

Road improvements to access remote mountain communities

Location:  San Jacinto to El Ojochal del Listón and Santa Elena to El Caracol, Telica

Duration:  July 2008 – June 2009

Beneficiaries:  230

Project cost:  $33,246

Donors:  New Hope Llantwit Major, UK; other private donors



Water for my school

Rainwater harvesting for a school in Matagalpa

Location:  Waswalí Abajo, Matagalpa

Duration:  June – November 2008

Beneficiaries:  610

Project cost:  $7,462

Donor:  CARE, Nicaragua



Project Felix

Emergency water and sanitation relief work following Hurricane Felix

Location:  California, El Black, Las Breñas and other communities, Rosita, RAAN

Duration:  September – November 2007

Beneficiaries:  2000 (estimated)

Project cost:  $15,824

Donors:  Peace and Hope Trust, UK; Llantwit Major Community Church, UK; St Aldate's Church, Oxford, UK; other private donors



Gracias a Dios

Rainwater harvesting for a community at the foot of Volcán Telica

Location:  Gracias a Dios, San Jacinto, Telica

Duration:  July 2007 – May 2008

Beneficiaries:  68

Project cost:  $38,484

Donors:  Olive Branch Mennonite Missions, USA; St Paul’s and St George’s Church, Edinburgh, UK; World Vision, Nicaragua



Libro amigo

A pilot project to promote reading in an impoverished rural community

Location: San Jacinto, Telica

Duration: February 2007 – November 2008

Beneficiaries: 1020

Project cost: $8,882

Donors: Oxford-León Trust, UK; Troutman Foundation, USA; other private donors




A house by the lake

A housing project for displaced islanders by Lake Cocibolca (hydrogeological study, project design and Environmental Impact Assessment)

Location: Asese Peninsula, Granada

Duration: October 2006 – May 2010

Beneficiaries: 300 (estimated)

Project cost: $9,156

Donor: Seed International Fund Trust, UK

pdf-smallEIA (Spanish only)

pdf-smallHydrogeological study (Spanish only)



Churches unite to catch the rain

A project building cooperation between churches through rainwater harvesting

Location: Four churches in San Jacinto, Telica

Duration: January – December 2006

Beneficiaries: 350 (estimated)

Project cost: $24,949

Donors: The Bishop of Oxford, UK; St Paul’s and St George’s Church, Edinburgh, UK; Mendlesham Christian Fellowship, UK; Emmanuel Church, Bicester, UK; other private donors


El Ojochal school

Rainwater harvesting and school reconstruction for a remote hillside community

Location: El Ojochal del Listón, Telica

Duration: November 2005 – July 2010

Beneficiaries: 115

Project cost: $26,968

Donors: New Hope Llantwit Major, UK; Mayor of Telica



La Palmerita housing

Construction of 112 houses for displaced coffee workers

Location:  La Palmerita, Malpaisillo

Duration:  November 2005 – August 2007

Beneficiaries:  463

Project cost:  $315,297

Donors:  Peace and Hope Trust, UK; FOSOVI, Nicaragua; American Nicaraguan Foundation, Nicaragua; Llantwit Major Community Church, UK; other private donors