Young women and men in Nicaragua are increasing their knowledge and skills on environmentally-sustainable agricultural techniques through a youth-focused project. Lizz Harrison explains how she is working to boost young people's farming skills through the work of Y Care International.
Rainforests, sunshine and big spiders are things that often spring to mind when you think of Latin America. Well big spiders certainly do for me when I think of Nicaragua – or rather, spiders on my head as was the case on one visit!
However, Nicaragua is less of a tropical paradise than you might think; it is one of the poorest countries in the region with nearly half the population living below the poverty line. Poverty here is overwhelmingly rural, with rural farmers among the poorest nationally, including those in Boaco Department, north-east of the capital Managua. Here, they are also living in an area affected by floods, droughts, and hurricanes.
More than 2.5 million people have been affected by these disasters in Nicaragua in the last 30 years, and the impacts of climate change are likely to make life harder still for these farmers in the future.
Fighting food insecurity
The majority of households here depend on subsistence livelihoods and therefore rely on their land to produce enough food for themselves and their families. Combine this with poor soil fertility, scarcity of water, and natural hazards, and it’s clear that their reliable access to affordable and sufficient food is precarious. Add to the mix the uncertainty of how climate change might impact rainfall, temperature and natural hazards in the future and you see why food security here is a major concern.
But it’s not all doom and gloom as the youth-focused food security project,Feeding the Next Generation, is showing.
I’m lucky enough to work for Y Care International, who is running the project with our brilliant local partner, Nicaragua YMCA. The project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund for four years, and is already demonstrating how small changes can increase crop production while protecting the environment.
Credit picture: X. Fonseca/CIMMYT