In 2015, we opened our first country office in Nicaragua. In 2016, we expanded that field operation to include a second office in an additional region of the country. That same year, we opened a country office in Guatemala.

Our growing field operations evidence our commitment to using learning to constantly improve and scale our impact in communities. Findings from our impact analysis consistently show that a permanent country office presence improves the quality, efficiency, sustainability and cost management of our projects.

EWB-USA country office staff provide invaluable assistance in helping to make connections with communities requesting our partnership and providing crucial cultural training about our partners. Relationship management will get better and better, and so will project outcomes. By increasing our reliance on our staff experts in the field, projects will experience more accurate and better quality needs assessments, closer management on the delivery of high-quality and timely assistance, and a much more cost-effective use of resources.

The expansion is far from over! By the end of 2020, EWB-USA plans to have country offices operating in five countries.

Nicaragua

Nicaragua is often referred to as the land of lagoons and volcanoes, but these striking scenes overlay a country that struggles to meet its potential. Despite having a wealth of natural resources, it is the poorest country in Central America and the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere. Challenges to development in this country that struggles with food security include deforestation, soil erosion and water pollution.

In addition to the factors identified by global development indices, Nicaragua was chosen as EWB-USA’s first location for a permanent country presence because: community needs align with our sectors of expertise; it’s a safe environment for foreign volunteers; and we have a lengthy history of successful project work in two regions of the country.

EWB-USA is currently building local capacity through two offices. One office is located in San Isidro, Matagalpa, where we support programs in the northern region, including the departments of Esteli, Jinotega, Matagalpa, Madriz and Nueva Segovia. A second office is in the capital, Managua, where we provide support to the southern departments of Managua, Carazo, Boaco, Granada, Masaya and Rivas. Additionally, we have a small number of projects in other departments, with 11 out of 15 departments having at least one active project with EWB-USA.

We are currently partnering on 43 projects in Nicaragua, with 29 of those being water projects. By the end of 2017, these projects will improve access to water for more than 2,500 people. We anticipate growing requests to support water, sanitation and infrastructure projects, and we’re actively seeking opportunities to engage in projects that empower Nicaragua’s most underserved communities to meet their basic human needs. Follow projects’ progress and see updates from the field on our Facebook page.

For additional information on working with EWB-USA’s Nicaragua field operation, contact admin.nicaragua@ewb-usa.org.

Guatemala

Guatemala is rich in culture and natural beauty, but faces many infrastructure challenges that keep communities from living healthy, productive lives. The country’s rating on the United Nation’s Human Development Index, which reflects standard of living and quality of life, is the third lowest in Latin America. Those living in rural Guatemala are affected the most by the country’s underdevelopment, with water coverage 26 percent lower and access to adequate sanitation infrastructure 29 percent lower than the country’s urban areas. Road density by population, which is classified by the World Bank as medium to high throughout the southern half of the country, is classified as low throughout nearly the entire northern half of the country.

These statistics point to some of the most critical infrastructure needs in Guatemala that EWB-USA is working to resolve: potable water, sanitation, access, and educational infrastructure. We focus on addressing these needs through two offices in Guatemala. The central office in La Esperanza, Quetzaltenango, serves projects in the departments of Quetzaltenango, San Marcos, Sololá, Suchitepéquez y Totonicapán. A second office in Joyabaj, Quiché, serves projects in the southern part of the department of Quiché and the northern part of Chimaltenango. We are also working with local NGO partners to support projects in the northern part of the department of Quiché. In the coming years, we hope to expand our coverage to other vulnerable parts of the country such as Huehuetenango, Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz and Santa Rosa.

EWB-USA currently works with communities on more than 45 projects in Guatemala, with ten of those projects slated to be completed in 2017. The Engineering Service Corps is also making a big impact in Guatemala, with five projects tackling access, potable water, education infrastructure and energy underway in 2017. You can learn more about how our engineering projects are improving Guatemalan lives in the story of El Cantil, the recently completed vehicular bridge that brought safe passage to 13 Guatemalan communities. Follow the progress of our other projects on our Facebook page.

For additional information on working with EWB-USA’s Guatemala field operation, contact info.guatemala@ewb-usa.org.