I just returned tonight from NW Nicaragua where we saw firsthand some of the impacts of climate change on poverty and a couple of the projects that ELCA World Hunger has supported. We also had the chance to talk to the municipal authorities in Villa Nueva and the Assistant Director of the Millenium Development Corporation in Nicaragua. I saw and heard much more than I have time to share. Tonight, allow me to share briefly about one project we visited that encapsulates my experience thus far.
One of the ways in which climate change is being felt down here is through the unpredictability of precipitation. Before Mitch (1998, the marker for most of the farmers for when the weather patterns began to change), farmers in NW Nicaragua would have two planting seasons, one during the dry season and one during the wet season. The dry season has become so unpredictable that farmers are now hesitant to plant. The dry season may be so incredibly dry that nothing can grow. This first planting season has become a real gamble–seeds from the previous harvest may planted and lost without any return.
In the community of Las Jolotas, LWF has dug a well (pictured above) for a family who is now experimenting with irrigation, so that they can plant in the dry season and use gravity to irrigate their crops. This is the first dry season with the well, and, as you can see from the picture here, things are looking very good.
The effects of climate change are already being felt down here, and those who are poorest are being pushed closer to the brink. I am encouraged, though. People are banding together to help each other and good work is being done.
Tomorrow morning I leave for the Atlantic Coast, where we’ll be looking at some of the relief and development work that has taken place since 2007 when Hurricane Mitch wreaked havoc. I may be without internet again, but I will post as soon as I get back.