World Bank gives $30M for water project

Have a drink on me: A Nicaraguan boy on the Atlantic coast drinks from a World Bank-funded water project

Have a drink on me: A Nicaraguan boy on the Atlantic coast drinks from a World Bank-funded water project

In celebration of World Water Day, the World Bank today announced a new $30 million project to bring potable water and sewage services to 85 rural municipalities in Nicaragua.

The sustainable water project, funded by $14.3 million in World Bank loans and $15.7 million in grants, will provide basic water and sewage service to 52,000 Nicaraguans over the next five years.

Sweet water: A rural Nicaraguan community drinks from a new well

photo/ World Bank

Sweet water: A rural Nicaraguan community drinks from a new well

In Nicaragua, only 68% of the rural population has access to drinking water, and only 37% have access to sewage treatment, according to the World Bank. The government claims the percentage of those with access to drinking water in the urban households is slightly higher — around 84%. But in a country of daily water rationing in many poor neighborhoods, government statistics on access to drinking water are notoriously unreliable (in 2007, Ruth Selma Herrera, then-head of the state-owned Nicaraguan Water and Sewage Company, had to adjust the official statistics from 90% coverage to around 70% coverage after discovering just how inflated the government numbers were).

Maura Madriz Paladino, director of the water program for the Alexander von Humboldt Center, a Nicaraguan non-governmental organization specializing in environmental issues, told The Nicaragua Dispatch last year that her organization surveyed Nicaraguan homes in 2011 and found that 80% of Nicaragua’s population doesn’t receive the quantity or quality of water it needs—a situation she qualified as “alarming.”

“We can’t determine who has access to drinking water by looking at the number of people who have plumbing in their homes, but in Managua alone there are lots of homes that have pipes in the walls but no water in the pipes,” Madriz said. “We need to talk about the percentage of people who actually have potable water available to them in the quantity and quality to satisfy their basic needs.”

Says Herrera, the problem in Nicaragua is not the amount of water, but the quality.

“We are a country rich in contaminated water resources,” she said this morning in an interview on a local radio station Café con Voz.

 

  • AngeLobue

    Which areas will receive financing for water quality and quantity improvement?

    • NicaraguaDispatch

      85 of the poorest municipalities on Atlantic and Pacific coasts

      • AngeLobue

        Does anyone have more information on this? For example, is there a document in the loan application which lists all of the “85 of the poorest municipalities on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts” along with the specific amount of money and specific projects to be funded? Are any of these documents available in the public domain so that investigative journalists can report on where the money is expected to go, in order to hold the recipients responsible for disclosure BEFORE the money is distributed? Or, is such information “classified” permitting politically corrupt “slippage, or “handling fees,” sometimes called “the cost of doing business?”

        Rather than waiting for evidence of corruption, is it possible for responsible journalists to “assist in funding transparency” before the money is distributed?

        I would consider that a form of journalistic integrity, in effect, a preliminary disclosure that would permit the public to “follow the money as it flows.”

        • AngeLobue

          Catching people doing something wrong” may make more marketable headlines than “catching people doing something right.”

          However, courageous and labor-intensive monitoring of a transparent process of aid from the World Bank to the underserved, developing world may benefit the citizens of the country more than the titillation of reading about another ineffective, and possibly corrupt, political process.

      • Guest

        Catching people doing something wrong” may make more marketable headlines than “catching people doing something right.”

        However, courageous and labor-intensive monitoring of a transparent process of aid from the World Bank to the underserved, developing world may benefit the citizens of the country more than the titillation of reading about another ineffective, and possibly corrupt, political process.

  • randypower

    I’m curious to know who the loans are with and what are the terms of the loans for the half of this $30M that is loaned.

    • NicaraguaDispatch

      loans are from WB – 40 year term, 10 year grace period

      • randypower

        Thanks ND for the terms. In 40 years, we may see a very different Nicaragua. Is there collateral?

        Ken – I agree 100%. I’ve become mostly cynical whenever big money is involved.

    • Ken Morris

      Yeah, although I’m sure it’s more complex and there’s probably some genuine foreign aid money sloshing around in the World Bank, my understanding is that the bank is actually a for-profit business from which its investors make money. This doesn’t necessarily make this a bad deal for Nicaragua, and it could be a good deal. There’s nothing after all wrong with doing well while doing good. However, I become suspicious when aid projects include IOUs that extend outward as far as the eye can see. According to one calculation, for example, Nicaragua has paid the US more money than it has received in US aid since 1990. Whenever the issue is handouts, or probably anything having to do with money, the devil is always in the details. I hope this is a good deal for Nicaragua and am tentatively willing to assume it is, but I’m suspicious.

  • Pepe Turcon

    The real deal help for the needy always comes from overseas while the local fools keep talking about Imperial powers. No doubt the “third world” definition belongs exclusively to the political class in Latin America….we are getting closer and close to Washington DC, there… by the White House.

    • Stevan

      I think by third world they/we mean Majority world. Nicaragua has become a handout nation. The biggest business there could very well be orginizing foreign funding. “Do gooders” need to take a long hard look at where the money goes.