Nuevas Esperanzas UK

Nuevas Esperanzas UK

At a glance


  • Environment
  • International development

Other details

Geographical remit: 


Nuevas Esperanzas' mission is to provide practical and technical assistance to communities in Nicaragua as they seek to establish sustainable livelihoods which lift them out of poverty and to encourage transformational development, both material and spiritual, at all levels of society.

Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and has a long history of exploitation, dictatorship, civil war, corruption and unrest. It is also a country that has been repeatedly devastated by natural disasters, and is constantly at risk from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, mudslides, and drought. The economic effect of these disasters has been profound and long-lasting.

Nuevas Esperanzas primarily works with vulnerable and marginalized communities in the Department of Leon, Western Nicaragua. Some of these are remote and isolated, and are made up of traditional campesinos - or subsistence farmers - on the slopes of Volcanoes Telica and Rota. These people have an average income of less than $1/day and live away from access to basic services. For these people access to water is a big challenge, and many walk up to 5 km a day to collect it. Most grow only traditional crops and are unaware of more profitable alternatives which could better suit their environmental context. Environmental degradation of the land they live on has resulted in mass deforestation.

The other communities that Nuevas Esperanzas works with live in areas where groundwater is contaminated with arsenic. Drinking water rich in arsenic over a long period leads to arsenic poisoning. This results in a wide range of health problems including cancers of the bladder, kidney and lung. However, symptoms can take up to ten years to develop so can go unnoticed.

Nuevas Esperanzas works to tackle these problems. It has prioritized the communities of subsistence farmers because they have traditionally received almost no outside support from NGOs or local government. Meanwhile it has prioritized those affected by arsenic - even though they have a little more access to basic services - as hundreds, if not thousands are still drinking contaminated water. The full extent of the problem is unknown and further work is needed to give alternatives to those at risk.

To counter these problems, Nuevas Esperanzas works in a range of sectors including water and sanitation, health, rural infrastructure, agro ecology and conservation. More details of the specific services Nuevas Esperanzas offers are given below under Organisation Activities.


In the communities on the slopes of Volcanoes Telica and Rota, Nuevas Esperanzas is helping improve access to water by building rainwater harvesting systems (78 since 2005) and protecting springs. These provide a more reliable, cleaner source of water closer to people's homes and allows them to devote more time and energy to farming and education.

Access to these communities is being improved to give farmers better access to their land to take their crops to market. Sustainable forms of generating income are being introduced to make use of the natural resources of the land without continuing to degrade the environment whilst providing incentives and business opportunities for smallholders. These include organic gardening, agroforestry, beekeeping and tourism. These activities are helping to make livelihoods more sustainable by improving food security, and stabilizing and increasing incomes.

In arsenic-contaminated areas, new safe water solutions are being provided. A particularly innovative project was completed in 2013 for 1,000 people. A 4km pipeline now provides them with 100,000 litres per day of arsenic-free water from a mountain spring to complement a geothermally-heated borehole with moderate levels of arsenic which provides water for non-consumptive uses. This elegant solution thus ensures cold, uncontaminated water to meet the demand for human consumption as well as more plentiful supplies of warm water for washing and bathing - a first for Nicaragua.

These programmes are underpinned by a strong emphasis on community development, organisation and education. Participating communities are involved in every step of the process and Nuevas Esperanzas evolves according to their specific needs and priorities.

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