Miller Center Fellowship

Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date




People living in rural and semi-urban communities in Northern Nicaragua drink contaminated water on a daily basis and struggle with the effects on their health. ASDENIC is in a unique position to create a social enterprise within its organization to provide sustainable clean water solutions to the communities it already serves, and beyond. By distributing and/or manufacturing affordable, effective household water filters, this enterprise could fill an important need through a financially self-sustaining model.

Research Activities

We conducted 70 semi-structured interviews with potential beneficiaries in six communities: Daraili, Bramadero, Buena Vista, El Pegador, Condega, and Las Sabanas. Additionally, we administered 37 written surveys of 20 questions each and conducted two focus groups with a total of 10 participants, all in rural communities. We met with 15 key informants from local water nonprofits, local governmental organizations, and ASDENIC employees to gather contextual knowledge on the history and infrastructure of water purification efforts. All activities were conducted in Spanish. We took 24 water samples from public and private water taps in rural, peri-urban, and urban areas to test levels of bacterial contamination. In addition, comprehensive water analysis tests funded by Miller Center were conducted, prior to our arrival. These tests assessed bacteriological, material, and chemical contaminants at regional water sources. Our interviews, surveys, meetings, and tests provide a blend of qualitative and quantitative data on the current drinking water situation from environmental, economic, and public health perspectives.

Key Findings

There is a need. On average, 90% of water tests conducted in rural communities in private and public faucets showed levels of coliform that exceeded WHO guidelines for acceptable drinking water. In addition, the vast majority of participants we interviewed expressed concern about the quality of their drinking water with a smaller, yet still significant portion reporting that someone in their family was currently experiencing diarrheal issues related to their water.

There is a market. A majority of individuals we interviewed stated they would be willing to pay for a filter that would provide cleaner water but currently this type of product is not accessible to them.



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