1988: Joe Ryan, then of Veterans for Peace carried out the first testing of rural water sources in the vicinity of El Cuá, Department of Jinotega, in cooperation with the MINSA Epidemiology laboratory of Matagalpa.
1989: Robert Harvey and Fred Jacob, then of Veterans Peace Action Teams (VPAT) and UNAG, carried out a survey of water quality in the sources used in 11 communities in the Cuá-Bocay Valley, working with the MINSA Health centers in El Cuá and San José de Bocay.
Of 69 water sources tested 67 were found to have serious fecal contamination.
The VPAT well-drilling rig arrived and began to work in Cuá-Bocay.
Joe Ryan collecting drinking water samples, Cuá-Bocay valley 1988
1990: A water testing laboratory was set up in the El Cuá Health Center, with two technicians trained. This laboratory continues to function with TASCA support.
The Dirección de Acueductos Rurales (DAR) of ENACAL (then INAA) began construction of water systems in 22 communities in Cuá-Bocay. The Millipore filtration method was introduced in the MINSA Epidemiology laboratory of Matagalpa, beginning a long-term collaboration.
The Under-5 Infant Mortality Rate in Nicaragua was reported by WHO to be 68 per 1000 live births.
Contaminated spring serving part of the community of Sta. Rosa, Cuá-Bocay, 1989
1991: TASCA was formed by Joe Ryan, Fred Jacob and Robert Harvey.
TASCA began collaboration with ENACAL/DAR, enabling testing of water quality in newly installed systems.
1992: TASCA established a rural water testing laboratory in Jinotega in collaboration with ENACAL/DAR. This laboratory operated until 1996, when the SILAIS Jinotega Departmental laboratory took over its functions.
Filtering water samples, Matagalpa lab
1993: TASCA established a rural water testing laboratory in Tuma-La Dalia in collaboration with ENACAL/DAR, training three technicians. This laboratory continues to function with TASCA support. TASCA and the Centro Nacional de Diagnóstico y Referencia (CNDR) of MINSA commenced their continuing collaboration. TASCA was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in North Carolina.
1995: In cooperation with SILAIS Jinotega of MINSA TASCA established a Departmental level water testing lab in Jinotega, capable of testing 200 samples per week.
1996: The TASCA scholarship program began, supporting studies of two doctors from El Cuá towards the Masters in Public Health in UNAN-León. The Jinotega Departmental water lab was expanded to provide testing for cholera and other epidemic and endemic diseases, and low-cost clinical testing.
1997: In cooperation with SILAIS Madriz of MINSA TASCA established a Departmental level water testing lab in Somoto, capable of testing ~80 water samples per week and of testing for cholera in water and feces. TASCA established a rural water testing laboratory in the Health Center of San Dionisio in collaboration with ENACAL/DAR and MINSA, which continues to operate.
On the left, first scholarship recipient, from El Cua. He continues to live and work in this rural community.
Study commenced by TASCA and the DAR of Matagalpa to validate an inexpensive and simple field method for rural water testing which detects the presence of bacteria which produce hydrogen sulfide as indicators of fecal contamination.
2000: The Under-5 Infant Mortality Rate in Nicaragua was reported by WHO to be 43 per 1000 live births.
2001: The DAR of Matagalpa began to use the simple field test for routine testing of rural water supplies.
2002: TASCA began cooperation with the epidemiology laboratory of SILAIS León.
2003: SILAIS Madriz began to use the simple field test for routine testing of rural water supplies in all rural communities of the Department.
The TASCA scholarship program was supporting 7 students, with seven having graduated.
2004: SILAIS Jinotega adopted the simple field test for routine testing of rural water supplies in all rural communities of the Department. The DAR of Chontales also began to use the test. UNICEF adopted the test for educational purposes in Nicaragua and Guyana with support from TASCA.
Teaching the Simple Field Method, Somoto
2005: More emphasis is given to awarding scholarships to health workers from rural communities. The TASCA scholarship program is supporting 21 students, 15 have graduated.
2006: The DAR of ENACAL was disbanded by the Nicaraguan government as part of a privatization effort required by the World Bank. Bad news.
The Under-5 Infant Mortality Rate in Nicaragua was reported by WHO to be 36 per 1000 live births.
2007: The SILAIS Madriz Departmental water lab was expanded to provide other public health services and low-cost clinical testing.
2008: SILAIS Matagalpa adopted the simple field test for routine testing of rural water supplies in rural communities of the Department. The TASCA scholarship program is supporting 50 students, 42 have graduated (December 2008).
The Under-5 Infant Mortality Rate in Nicaragua was reported by WHO to be 27 per 1000 live births.
2009 - 2010: The scholarship program reached a peak of 56 students supported in 2009; with a wave of 21 graduations the number supported dropped to 43 in 2010.
The rural water testing program in the Department of Chontales had lapsed in 2007 with the closure of the Dirección de Acueductos Rurales of ENACAL. TASCA reactivated the program in cooperation with SILAIS Chontales of MINSA, delivering test kits, reagents and materials sufficient for 14 communities. The program was fully operational in 2010, covering all municipalities of Chontales and three of the South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS). This was supported by a grant to TASCA from the Child Health Foundation which also provided for the introduction of the Simple Field test for testing of water supplies in the Autonomous Regions of the Atlantic Coast. A beginning was made in North Atlantic region (RAAN) in 2009, collaborating with Save the Children to introduce the test in the communities of Rosita.
2011: Introduction of the Simple Field test in the RAAS is under way, with training of key personnel in January and shipment of test kits and materials to Bluefields in May. In the scholarship program fifteen new scholarships have been granted so far this year, bringing the current number of health workers supported with scholarships to 47.
The MINSA Epidemiology laboratories in Matagalpa, Jinotega, Madriz and León continue to operate with the support and collaboration of TASCA. To date, two shipments of laboratory equipment and supplies have been sent this year.
La Mina spring, 2009
More follow-up, Jinotega 2007; Volver, volver, volver