Solidaridad Internacional in Northern Chinandega – Nicaragua
Photo: ©V. Rios
Solidaridad Internacional began working in northern Chinandega in 1998, shortly before Hurricane Mitch. Responding to a request from the National Union of Farmers and Cattle Growers (UNAG), it developed a plan for mitigating the consequences of a drought caused by the “El Niño” phenomenon. That same year, Solidaridad Internacional (SI) established its permanent office in Somotillo, and thus far it is the only international organization based in the area.
SI’s prior presence in the area enabled it to rapidly respond when Hurricane Mitch struck the six northern Chinandega municipalities. UNAG collaborated with the municipal governments in conducting the first census of victims and preparing, in conjunction with Solidaridad Internacional, the first requests for aid.
Disaster Prevention Projects in the European Union’s Second and Third DIPECHO Action Plans. These actions enabled Solidaridad Internacional to achieve the following:
- Initiate, in collaboration with municipal governments and other agencies working in the region, a process to mitigate the impact of potential natural disasters and to prepare the population to prevent them, through the development of land-use and watershed management plans for the region (Estero Real and Negro River).
- Improve people’s capacity to cope with potential natural disasters (earthquakes, landslides, floods, drought, and wildfires), which are very common in northern Chinandega, by strengthening community organization through the training of Local Emergency Committees that can operate within a network established with Municipal Emergency Committees, government institutions, and departmental and national civil defense authorities.
- Implement an early warning system (EWS) for the region, comprised of 27 radio-communication stations, 9 rain gauges, and 2 staff gauges installed on the two main rivers, in coordination with the Nicaraguan Institute for Territorial Studies (INETER); civil defense authorities; the National System for Disaster Prevention, Mitigation, and Response (SINAPRED); local government and amateur radio organizations, all members of the regional and national civil defense system.
In 2003, SI designed a regional action plan, drawing on the basic concept of “integrated, consensus-based development.” Along these lines, the plan is established around a consensus-building, coordination, and planning approach to development, in order to manage interventions and optimize resources by focusing actions in those development areas where more experience has been acquired.
The component related to the strengthening of local institutions provides support for consensus-building, coordination, and planning mechanisms, so that the corresponding local bodies can effectively develop all sectors under their administration.
Using this concept, SI recently implemented two projects in the region: “Building democratic governance for the development of northern Chinandega” (2005-2007), funded by the Basque government; and “Improving people’s skills for sustainable environmental resource management, with a gender perspective” (2006-2007), funded by the Biscay provincial government.
Solidaridad Internacional’s approach encompasses the following areas of action:
I) Integrated development;
II) Subregional and municipal strategic planning;
III) Reclaiming citizen rights and responsibilities, participation and good government;
IV) Contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG);
V) Sustained support;
VI) Increased youth involvement; and
VII) A gender equity perspective, facilitating access to social, economic, cultural and political resources and opportunities.