Nicaraguan families suffer health issues from polluted lake

For more than 80 years, the government of Managua, Nicaragua, dumped all of the city’s raw sewage into nearby Lake Managua. Combined with industrial waste from factories dotting the shore, the lake is considered one of the world’s most polluted bodies of water.

A water treatment plant was built in 2009 and is managed by the British company, Biwater, but it only handles 40 percent of the sewage made by Managua’s population of more than one million people. Tens of thousands of Nicaragua’s poorest people live in densely packed neighborhoods next to the lake. The poorest among these live within view of the water.

Mario Alexander lives in La Primavera, one of Managua’s densest barrios. Every day, Mario wades into the lake’s shallow water to catch fish. He knows the lake is polluted, but he can’t afford to buy food. Over a year ago, a black fungus began growing on his hands. Without the medication to kill it, the fungus spread to different parts of his body.

Marcia Inez Castillo has lived in La Primavera for almost 40 years. She makes nets for many of the fishermen in the barrio and fishes to feed her family and sell in the market. She believes the lake is now safe to eat from because of the water treatment plant.

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