Project Factsheet
Tools for » Local and regional environmental management for the management of natural resources and provision of environmental services
Project ID:00067171Description:MDGF-1751-E-NIC Env Climate
MDG Achievement Fund
Start Date *: 2 Oct 2007
MDGF Environ Climate Chg
End Date*: 18 Apr 2012
Country: Nicaragua Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple


The Joint Programme (JP) aimed at developing sustainable management of natural resources and access to safe water, hygiene, energy and a healthy environment in the Autonomous Northern Region (RAAN) including the micro watersheds of the Waspuk, Kukalaya and Wawa rivers, in two municipalities (Waspam and Bonanza), that belong to the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve. A major change in the JP design led to one of the most important achievements: the original product to pilot environmental services in the selected micro watersheds was changed, at the request of the JP steering committee, to the implementation of an Early Warning System (EWS) in those watersheds.  Other significant achievements include the partnership of the United Nations System (UNS) with the state institutions leading to joint planning, execution, responsibility and accountability. The intervention has also contributed to the recognition by all stakeholders of the local and community-based authorities with particular consideration to ethnic and cultural dimensions. The programme was instrumental in bringing experience and knowledge to poor rural and indigenous sectors through various activities that improved protection and production of natural resources, as well as access to basic services such as water and energy. The approach based on co-management of natural resources as social capital can positively influence territorial governance (e.g. committees for safe water and hygiene, watershed management committees, energy committees) through the emergence of territorial governance platforms.


Outcome 1:

Development of the local capacity to manage micro watersheds with a focus on risk prevention and ecosystem restoration.

Outcome achievements:

  • The JP took a participatory approach that share the responsibility for results among the national, departmental and municipal partners, but with a focus at community-based ownership targeting the three ethnic groups that live in the Reserve. Community leaders, youth and women were particularly targeted in order to play a role in the various activities that took place and in their governance structures. In total, the JP reached some 6,000 men and 4,000 women, and involved 6 national institutions and 20 local institutions. An initial conservation activity based on leveraging service fees was changed to an early warning system (EWS) for the watersheds, at the request of the steering committee. These watersheds have suffered flooding from Hurricane Felix. 18 communities have radio communication for EWS and 423 youth have been trained in the management of these early warning systems.


Outcome 2:

Improved used and access to potable water and sanitation in the communities, schools and health posts of the targeted micro watersheds.

Outcome achievements:

  • 5,561 persons, of whom 2,361 are children, gained access to safe potable water and sanitation. The effects of safe water were obvious through a high drop in cases of diarrhea and other water-borne diseases (dysentery) and lower under-five mortality children rates. Committees for safe water and hygiene (CAPS) were created composed of 6-9 persons in each community, with women having 40% participation. The process of developing and training of CAPS was further replicated by another JP (Watsan) in other municipalities.


Outcome 3:

Improved access and sustainable use of renewable energies in communities and schools of the target micro watersheds.

Outcome achievements:

  • 4,428 persons were provided with renewable energy (photovoltaic cells) and electricity.
  • The primary beneficiaries were indigenous communities (Miskitos, mayagnas, and mestizos) and youth under 21 years of age, children of school age and women and men. The development of networks of community-based promoters and communicators (60) that disseminated the information (including through community radios) was a key step to strengthen local community ownership in the JP.


Outcome 4:

Reconstruction of the damaged plant cover affected by Hurricane Felix in Bosawas through integral development of appropriate agro forestry systems.

Outcome achievements:

  • 434 hectares of agro forest were established. Of these, 241 hectares were fruit-bearing trees and plants; 193 hectares were for cocoa, wood and plants, including 33 hectares of reforestation. The development of agro forestry model showed that it is possible to produce without deteriorating the forest or the soil and that these models further have regenerative effects on damaged ecosystems.


Outcome 5:

Research, communication, training and environmental education strengthen the links between the JP and the Management Plan of the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve.

Outcome achievements:

  • In Waspam and Bonanza, a network of researchers was formed by two youth from each of the 14 communities that live in the Reserve to monitor the fauna and to manage the watersheds, with support from the regional university professors.  This has developed the sense for the communities of belonging in this reach ecosystem, and also boosted pride and commitment to protect and care for the ecosystem. This also contributes to building the affected communities’ cultural identity.


Best practices:

  • The model used by the JP integrated the local population in the sustained management of the national resources which allowed them to improve their income level.
  • The JP is aligned with the National Human Development Plan (2007-2012) and the Caribbean Coast Development Plan. The JP implementation led to closer relationships and networking with national, local and community-based authorities and civil society respecting the relevant cultures and idiosyncrasies. The UNS made a special effort to develop an encompassing approach to be inclusive of the various stakeholders at all levels, from communities to the regional authorities. The development of community based committees (watersheds, CAPS, energy, etc.) created a very important platform for territorial governance.
  • Good work practices led to beneficiary ownership that is part of the sustainability of the JP model.
  • The UN Office of the Resident Coordinator (ORC) played a key role in the successful implementation of the programme, particularly, as this was the first of six JPs for Nicaragua. The ORC created a petit committee integrated by each JP convening Agency, with the purpose of creating synergies and complementing other three JPs that were undertaken in the same region. Another example of good synergies was the closing seminar of the Joint Programme which was undertaken together with the Gender JP. A specific element was the creation of the post of JP sub-coordinator in Waspam, with the coordinator based in Bonanza.
  • The JP has contributed to include respective budget allocations at the municipal level. This will enable to continue the activities (environmental education, watershed committees, CAPS, energy, etc.) beyond the life of the programme, something that did not exist before the JP.


Lessons learned:

  • The time-frame when designing JP’s should be better estimated, particularly considering the administrative delays in the transfer of funds including at the local level for a complex intervention that involves a large number of actors. At the national level, disbursements were made on the basis of an Annual Consolidated Operational Plan (POA) but each agency used its own procedures for execution based on annual work plans. The primary actors of the programme must be the indigenous communities of the region, while the UN system, the local and municipal authorities play a supporting role.
  • Undertaking a JP in indigenous regions of difficult access where there are few development interventions while making the programme supportive and linked to the national policies of poverty reduction and sustainable development is a sound approach that leverages good participation from the different actors.
  • The JP used an inclusive approach that included beneficiary and community organizations participation, linkages between the different levels of authorities (regional-municipal-communal), capacity development in both technical aspects and also in organizational management, and practical technical support to on-going activities. The learning curve of JP’s undertaken in difficult conditions should contemplate a pre-investment stage to develop proper coordination and implementation mechanisms from the onset of the JP’s adapted to the context.
  • It is necessary for complex initiatives where many different UN agencies come together that there be a better initial understanding of the procedures and mechanisms in order to provide more efficiency and fluidity in the processes that are articulated in the JP’s.
  • The actual local capacity of UN agencies should be a key criterion for selecting a participating agency.
  • Consider the planning process as a part of a collective effort of all the stakeholders (UN agencies and implementers).
  • Develop a communication plan, design a monitoring system and a knowledge management system at the onset of the JP, and have the corresponding budget allocations for it.


More details can be found in the final project report:

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