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Women Leading the Charge for Water and Sanitation

As mayor of the district of San Rafael del Norte in Nicaragua, Doña Norma commands respect. She and her family have a long and respected history in the district, so when Doña Norma speaks up, people listen.

Doña Norma stepped in to lead San Rafael del Norte in 1986, after the previous mayor had been killed during Nicaragua’s civil war. No one else wanted the job – they were fearful of the same fate. Doña Norma, however, wasn’t fazed. She said the municipality needed an administration that would advocate for its people and create a better life for everyone in San Rafael del Norte.

Doña Norma was just the person to lead that charge.

In her community, Doña Norma says it’s not unusual for a woman to be in a position of power. "The only thing you need to have is a love for the people and the work," she says. That passion is evident in Doña Norma’s voice when she talks about the progress happening in San Rafael del Norte.

As mayor, Doña Norma’s goal is for everyone in her district to have what they need to be safe and move forward in their lives – including water. Since 2011, Water For People has worked alongside Doña Norma and municipal authorities to bring reliable water and sanitation services to the district – aiming to reach all of its approximately 23,000 people. But just as important as the water and sanitation infrastructure, Doña Norma says she is grateful Water For People helped train communities to maintain their own water systems – making sure they are sustainable for Everyone Forever.

Currently, Doña Norma’s priorities for San Rafael del Norte are full water coverage, improved roads, bringing electricity throughout the district, and ensuring every community has a health clinic nearby.

"For now, there is enough satisfaction," Doña Norma says, her face breaking into a smile. "The community loves that they can depend on water. We are very happy with the work that has been done."

We know equal participation of men and women in developing community water and sanitation programs leads to greater sustainability of service.

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