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Promoting climate-proof disaster risk reduction in Nicaragua

Nicaragua is extremely vulnerable to the disasters fueled by climate change and whose impacts are worsened by environmental degradation, such as deforestation. The Partners for Resilience work to reduce this vulnerability and to strengthen the resilience capacity of the communities to deal with the impacts of disasters. Additionally, we promote policy dialogue and increase the understanding of disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and restoration and management of natural resources.

Action Description:

The problem

The Nicaraguan Ministry of National Resources and the Environment, based on data from Territorial Studies Institute INETER, predicts that within this century rainfall will decline by an average of 30%, and temperatures rise by 1-2°C. Furthermore, climate variability will increase, meaning stronger storms in some years and more severe droughts in others because of rising temperatures. Moreover, there is a high deforestation rate in Nicaragua that makes the country even more vulnerable to climate change from flooding and landslides. 

The 2013 Germanwatch Global Climate Risk Index ranks Nicaragua third in the world for vulnerability to climate change, based on the most extreme weather events over the past 20 years[1]. The tropical cyclones that cross the country from the Atlantic every year provoke extensive floods and landslides. Nicaragua’s worst storms in the past 20 years were Hurricane Mitch (1998) and Hurricane Felix (2007), both category-five storms, causing thousands of deaths, most of which were buried in mudslides on the side of Casita Volcano, and billions of dollars in damages.

Climate change is also causing a less dramatic but worsening effect on Nicaragua’s agricultural-based economy which is severely affected by droughts. Finally, conditions are created for plagues and invasive species, such as rats and the southern pine beetle, that affect human health but also crops and remaining forest.

Where we work: Madriz and RAAN

Natural disasters are becoming increasingly frequent in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) due to climate change and deforestation, including a rat infestation and Hurricane Beta in 2005, Hurricane Felix in 2007, and Hurricane Ida in 2009. The RAAN was hit hardest by Hurricane Mitch, causing landslides and destroying many homes. Furthermore, drought threatens the agriculture as entire harvests are lost due to the lack of rain. This also occurs in Madriz in the west of the country belonging to the already dry corridor of Nicaragua.

In the period of 2011 – 2014, the alliance partners work in vulnerable communities in 4 municipalities in Madríz: Somoto, San Lucas, Las Sabanas, and San José de Cusmapa. In the RAAN the partners work from Puerto Cabezas.

What we do

In Nicaragua our Panamá office and local staff work with local partners The Nicaraguan Red Cross, CARE Nicaragua, plus the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. Together, we work to reduce the vulnerability and increase the resilience of communities to disasters that are magnified by climate change and environmental degradation.

We do this by driving change in the communities to make them disaster-proof and more resilient to disaster when they do occur. This means halting unsustainable productive activities that increase their vulnerability, such as logging. We combine this with productive diversification to decrease the dependence on one single product or crop. In case one of their productive activities is damaged by a disaster, they can fall back on others, and still generate sufficient income to bounce back. We also introduce disaster resistant measures, such as reforestation and improved local planning in natural resource management, disaster prevention and response.

We build the capacity of their local organisations so that they understand the approach integrating disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and restoration and management of natural resources. Based on this understanding, these organisations themselves can develop initiatives and influence public policies and norms at local and departmental level.

Finally, by stimulating policy dialogues and strategy development, we assure that the integral approach to disaster risk reduction is promoted and applied at the national level. This means including these strategies in their development plans, their planning tools and their legal frameworks.

In all these actions we promote the learning from traditional practices and complement them with scientific knowledge, and develop tools and systemized practices to be shared across the alliance and partners.

Action Partners:

Under the Partners for Resilience alliance we work with these local partners in Nicaragua: