Nicaragua is located at the center of the Central American isthmus, which is considered one of the most vulnerable regions on the globe to the impact of climate change. Floods are frequent here, and have a severe impact on families’ security and livelihoods. Earthquakes are considered the greatest natural threat to the capital city of Managua, where most of the population is concentrated, and based on historical trends it is predicted that a large earthquake will strike soon.
To mitigate the risks of potential disasters, Save the Children is implementing disaster risk reduction programming in Nicaragua that prioritizes children’s participation in emergency preparedness and their protection during humanitarian crisis. Save the Children estimates that up to 350 million people are affected by natural disasters each year over the next decade, of which 175 million are children and adolescents. The rights of children and their families are most at risk in disasters and armed conflicts. Therefore, humanitarian assistance is a fundamental part of our work in various countries around the world.
The Nicaragua CO’s DRR and Humanitarian Assistance programme revolved around two objectives related to four subthemes: General relief/emergency management, Preparedness, prevention and risk reduction (DRR); Food Aid and Other emergencies. The programme worked with one partner and 78% of its funds came from Save the Children Norway (NORAD), and 22% from other source of funds (SC Italy, SCUK and SCI Central Seed Funds). DRR actions provided direct coverage to 8,436 children (54%) in 34 communities of 8 municipalities, with a 59% increase in direct coverage this year compared to 2012.
In addition to the experience in humanitarian response to emergencies in Nicaragua, the staff of Save the Children has developed technical skills to contribute to the protection of the child rights in emergency situations. This will meet the needs of food, health, water and sanitation, protection and education.
In July 2013, Tropical Wave #122 affected most of the country. The RAAN and the RAAS were the hardest hit areas of the country. A total of 10,137 people (6,194 children and 3,943 adults) from 23 communities in Prinzapolka, a municipality in which Save the Children has projects with various partners, had been affected. With support from SC Norway, SC Italy and SC UK, we were able to respond and supported local authorities and families.
Food Aid: SC Norway and UK funding allowed the distribution of one-week worth of food aid to 476 households in 10 communities in Prinzapolka, RAAN; benefiting a total of 2,674 people, including 1,479 children (796 boys and 683 girls) and 1,195 adults (1,422 men and 1,252 women). Each food aid package contained 14 lbs. rice, 7 lbs. beans, 11 lbs. sugar, 2 L oil, 4 lbs. salt, 14 kg fortified grain drink. A total of 12.01 metric tons of food aid were distributed.
Other emergencies: SC Norway and CSF funding was oriented to WASH activities in 13 communities of Prinzapolka. Main activities included cleansing, disinfection and rehabilitation of 40 water wells that provide drinking water to 385 households and a total of 2,197 people (519 boys, 516 girls, 593 men and 569 women). Repairs to five sanitary units (community bathrooms). Repairs to rain-water storage systems and general clean-up of 10 schools. Distribution of 106 80 L plastic barrels. Public education campaign to promote safe water and proper hygiene practices, including training for leaders, clean-up campaign, 11 safe water fairs, distribution of educational materials.
Nicaragua is a country threatened by multiple types of disaster scenarios due to its geographical location and its typography. The country is highly vulnerable to natural disasters with a history of 41 hurricanes in 104 years, 1,500 seismic events a year, 6 active volcanoes, tsunamis or tidal waves, droughts, and annual landslides and mudslides.
The Disaster Risk Reduction program is oriented towards strengthening the capacity of children and adolescents in disaster risk reduction, promoting them as social stakeholders and supporting them to play an active, leadership role in their communities. The program includes making improvements to infrastructure and disaster response capacity in schools, in municipalities, and on a regional and national level. Children also participate in reforestation activities to reduce the physical and environmental vulnerability of their communities.
We train children, adolescents, adultos, communities and schools on DRR and emergency preparedness with a right-based approach and promote the actively participation.
We organize training of local prevention, mitigation and response committees (COLOPREDs), school committees, and local and school brigades. Activities included the implementation of a risk mapping exercise, development of local and school response plans, and a simulation at the community and municipal levels. In addition, support was provided to monitoring and following-up support in schools, communities and the municipal disaster prevention, mitigation and response committee (COMUPRED) in the municipality of Prinzapolka.
Additional DRR activities (such as community celebrations, fairs, etc.) have provided opportunities for children to participate with adults (families, community members and teachers), and considerably increase awareness of and respect for children and their rights.
Our main partner, the Civil Defence, has established alliances at the local level with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, National Police, Ministry of the Family, Child and Adolescent Commissions and NGOs. The programme’s work, technical support and coordination with MINED’s Disaster Response Technical Unit (UTED) have been consolidated, producing important results, such as SC’s inclusion as a member of SINAPRED’s Education Sectoral Committee.