Recycled plastic bottles as an alternative material for construction

The coverage of drinkable water and sanitation services in Nicaragua’s schools are respectively at 48% and 28%. On the Caribbean Coast, the coverage indexes of these basic services are lower than the national average. This, added to the impact of climate change in the region reduces the quantity and quality of available water for human consumption. The lack of environmental sanitation increases alimentary insecurity, and leads to serious public health problems.


  • From Aug 2013
  • Up Nov 2013
  • Stage Finalizado
  • Reto: #primeras72horas
  • Place Managua

General Description

The WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools) Program implemented in schools proposes to develop initiatives that will enable water and sanitation access in schools. Using technologies and focusing on adaptation to climate change. These initiatives will fulfil quality standards in a context of deficient resources.

For this purpose, plastic soft-drink bottles thrown in the streets or on the riverbank are being used as masonry material to build bathroom cabins, parapets and storage tanks. To see that this garbage could be reused in a creative way to make useful things encouraged children and the local population’s creativity.

6,189 children who attendto the 26 schools, rely on water, sanitation and hygiene access, build or rehabilitated with a focus on climate change adaptation, using plastic bottles as masonry construction material.

Almost 50,000 plastic soft-drinks bottles were collected and taken back from the streets and riverbanks. In this way, the litter generated by the bottles ceased to be seen as a problem, rather it was considereds an opportunity to build with sustainable and economic material, generating better environmental care, and promoting social development.

The plastic bottles harvest generated a large mobilisation in the educational communities

Various way of using plastic bottles were explored. This brought the conclusion that using them instead of traditional materials is 28% higher if they are put in horizontal position, and 43% lower in vertical position. These figures enabled us to advocate for the reuse of plastic bottles in places in which they represent an environmental problem.

Bathroom walls build with plastic bottles proved to be cooler than the ones build with traditional materials


Wanda Obando, Water Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools Officer, UNICEF Nicaragua (

Fátima Aguado, Program Assistant. UNICEF Nicaragua (

Andrés Martínez Morales, WASH Program Consultant


The “Grupo de Voluntariado Civil” (GVC) is an Italian NGO without lucrative objective, which has worked in Nicaragua since 1984, realizing development projects in the fields of: alimentary security, water and sanitation, environment, education, socio-sanitary, adolescents and youth in social risk situation, risk management, and emergency projects.


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