IDEAS (The Institute for Development, Evaluation, Assistance and Solutions) is a 40 year-old non-profit that has worked in community development on four continents. For more than two decades it has been working in Nicaragua, the second poorest country in western hemisphere. About 1.7 million Nicaraguans live without electricity far away from the national electric grid. Even those who are closer to electric wires suffer “energy poverty.”

IDEAS partnered with the Morris Family Foundation to expand clean water access powered by solar energy. IDEAS founded the first microfranchise in Nicaragua and has used the power of renewable energy to combat poverty, and economically improve the lives of poor women, youth, and their families. IDEAS has taken youth with only a high school education and trained 76 rural youth to be solar technicians, enabling them to sell their services of installation and repair to increase their incomes and improve standards of living of their neighbors in their off-the-grid communities. Solar energy brought to farming families improves their their lighting, communications, standard of living, nutrition, and their basic household conditions.

  • Beneficiary family who bought a solar system in Nicaragua
    Beneficiary family who bought a solar system

IDEAS helped youth technicians learn to use solar energy to pump water for irrigation, watering farm animals and piping clean water to homes. TecAp has piloted two new types of pumps and trained the youth how to install and widely promote their availability.
IDEAS has taught youth how to diagnose a farm’s water needs and to install a Swiss-engineered Water Pumping System The first pilot of the system, run by two solar panels with a total of 400W, has been able pump water to a farm family’s vast expanse of agricultural land up a high hill with a 45 degree slope with the tube running about 230 meters. It also pumps water to the family home. After the power of the first system was seen, many farmers and those with farm animals came to see the first of its kind solar pump in this northern region. Find a video of the system at TecAp Youtube’s Channel.

The second type of system that youth learned to install is the Water Purification and Pumping System that was designed for IDEAS by a Nicaraguan water engineer on our Board. To pilot the system, IDEAS chose a challenging large dwelling in the town of Quilali, which has water only a couple of hours every other day. The first training course in 2017 had one long day of theory and calculations and two days of the installation by the 8 youth. Before were days of preparing the electrical system and afterward were days of finishing the water piping.

The functioning pump meant that for the first time since the construction 22 years ago of the rambling compound of a dwelling around two courtyards that the families had sufficient water and water pressure to use the kitchen water, toilets, and showers. They were thrilled with how it had changed their lives from the time when they used buckets for showers & food prep and a latrine. The youth learned the system’s unique design of capturing rain water to then purify and pump throughout. During the dry season, the system uses the sporadic water from the city system. The water is pumped through one filter for sediment and an activated carbon filter for purification. The family previously had bought large containers of purified water for all uses as the city’s water comes out muddy in the rainy system and is not pure enough to drink at any time of year. Once installed, many are interested in using it not only in homes but also in restaurants and guest houses. Take a look at the system’s video below.

TecAp is helping more rural youth to learn the calculations and how to install and maintain these two types of pumps, bringing life-giving water for the first time to other rural communities in northern Nicaragua and increasing food production.