Innovation Transforms Water Management

Recently, I was fascinated to learn that Youtube’ing — an activity that many of us (admit it or not!) spend plenty of time doing — is also one of the activities that sees the most engagement by Water Committees when using the tablets distributed as part of the Technology for Sustainable Water Resource Governance project. There is a fountain of relevant information to be found!

When the chlorinator in the pump broke down, Martha, president of her Water Committee and recently equipped with a touch screen and data plan, went online to find references for the relevant chlorinator brand. A YouTube tutorial walked her through disassembly of the chlorinator. She was able to locate the fault and repair it. Online resources have already proved invaluable to her role which ranges from keeping the community informed to troubleshooting watery system issues and performing maintenance. 

While some communities have data available and invest 250 cordobas per month (about $9 CAD) to access the internet from the shared tablet, other communities use it to access the pre-loaded resources provided by the project workshops. Yamileth Rojas is the secretary of the CWC in her community of Los Robles located in one of the driest and most vulnerable municipalities in the Department of Leon. Access to technology allows the committee to access training modules on the six key knowledge areas (well maintenance, management of water resources, legal frameworks, administration, communications technology, and gender gaps) in order to provide the best possible service to the 55 families in their community.

The seemingly simple ability to connect using WhatsApp has been invaluable for Water Committees to set up meetings, to reach out to municipal representatives, to report maintenance issues, and to receive support. Tablets have also been loaded with software for record-keeping and with resources that put frequently accessed information at fingertips.

The seemingly simple ability to connect using WhatsApp has been invaluable for Water Committees to set up meetings, to reach out to municipal representatives, to report maintenance issues, and to receive support. Tablets have also been loaded with software for record-keeping and with resources that put frequently accessed information at fingertips. 

This project, in combination with a pandemic context, has emphasized and amplified the importance of encouraging the use of technology so that people from rural communities, support organizations, and public institutions can participate more actively in collaborative spaces. Interpersonal relationships are increasingly mediated by virtual spaces, whether in a workspace in Canada or on a Water Committee in Nicaragua. It is important to build digital literacy within all populations and to equip populations with digital resources that bridge geographic, social, and economic divides.

In The Field Central America and the Caribbean Nicaragua Water