Project Factsheet
Tools for » Cultural Recovery and Creative Productive Development on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua
Project ID:00067189Description:MDGF-1827-G-NIC Culture
MDG Achievement Fund
Start Date *: 5 Nov 2007
MDGF Culture & Development
End Date*: 30 Jun 2013
Country: Nicaragua Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple


The joint programme sought to enhance opportunities for economic development in the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast, through cultural revitalization, productive development and deepening of knowledge and exercising rights. It sought to find forms of revenue generation based on their cultural heritage while promoting empowerment and strengthening of the cultural roots of the different indigenous and Afro-descendant groups in the Nicaraguan Caribbean, mainly Miskitu, Mayangnas/sumus, Ulwas, Ramas, creoles and Garifunas. The JP used a participatory approach with a focus on human rights and development of cultural capital while strengthening human capacity.

The programme contributed to the design, development and institutionalization of the Regional Cultural Policy with both technical and financial resources. A fundamental contribution of the JP was the strengthening of regional institutions and in particular the permanent establishment of the Secretariats of Culture responsible for managing, coordinating and directing cultural development in regional bodies. It also contributed to the development of human capabilities through processes of education and training of women and men of all ages, who learned about culture in its various forms such as orally from the elders, from artists or other promoters of their people, as well as experts from the rest of the country.

Capacity artisans working wood, tunu, pine needle, shells and bones was strengthened through consulting, training and the opening of new production lines, by linking traditional artisans with the School of Art & Design. Small and micro-enterprises in gastronomy and tourism improved their skills and accessed credit to improve their production and income through the Revolving Credit Fund, a mechanism created by the JP to fund cultural projects.

The JP also supported the revitalization of nine cultural expressions at risk, as well as the installation of eight Community Cultural Centers (CCC) and an Integrated Cultural Centre (ICC). These public spaces present a new dynamic presence in the municipalities and the regional headquarters of the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) and South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS). A second ICC is under construction in the city of Bluefields.

Various initiatives targeted the area of education. The programme promoted participation of over 200 students in various processes of cultural revitalization, through internships and workshops. Contents of the curriculum from first to sixth grade were validated for linguistic and cultural diversity. In partnership with the regional university BICU, capacity building of the Center for Research and Documentation of the Atlantic Coast (CIDCA) to manage and operate the Research Revitalization Center supported 107 initatives of which more than 95 which were published in Wani magazine.

The programme provided a series of studies, such as the first study on African heritage in the Caribbean Coast offspring which will inform cultural policies of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. During the programme’s lifetime 16 Cultural Development Plans were approved and incorporated into the territorial government plan. This was the first such exercise.


Outcome 1:

Strengthened capacities of revitalization, management, administration and cultural production of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples of the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast: Miskitu, Garifuna, Creole, Ulwa, Mayangna and Rama.


Outcome Achievements:

  • Updated six diagnoses, including participatory mapping of existing cultural and creative offer, one per participating population. The results provided inputs for program activities and constituted a contribution to the cultural policies of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua.
  • The program developed a preliminary diagnosis of the mestizo population and its contribution to the cultural diversity of the Caribbean. A first study on the African heritage in the Caribbean Coast offspring was also conducted. Both reports were published.
  • Managed and implemented the revitalization of nine cultural expressions at risk: i) the celebration of the May Pole ii) languages ??and oral traditions of the people Ulwa, iii) of the Garífuna people; iv) of the Sumu Tuahka people; v) gastronomy of the Rama people vi) toponymies of the Rama peoples; vii) the oral memory Wangki viii) the celebration of King Pulanka and ix) the Feast of Emancipation. 
  • Cultural classrooms were developed in coordination with the Ministry of Education, for cultural exchange between the carriers of these traditions and children/adolescents of the community. These processes were published and a manual was developed.
  • Technical support to the regional university URACCAN for the creation of a curriculum for cultural managers which was adapted to the requirements of the Caribbean coast.
  • Organized and implemented the Procultura Fund as a mechanism to fund cultural projects submitted by organizations, groups, communities and individual artists.
  • The installation of eight Community Cultural Centers in Sandy Bay, Laguna de Perlas, Rama Cay, Corn Island, Bonanza, Waspám, Prinzapolka and Bilwi was completed.
  • Construction and equipping of an Integrated Cultural Centre (ICC) in Bilwi. This center is operational and houses the regional center of documentation and training spaces and artistic promotion. A second ICC is under construction in the city of Bluefields.
  • Local builders have been trained in safety and protection, incorporating the use of local resources.


Outcome 2:

Public policies strengthened for the revival and promotion of cultural diversity of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples of the Caribbean coast and the protection of cultural heritage.


Outcome Achievements:

  • 13 Cultural Development Plans discussed (9 Cultural Development Plans for the RAAN and 4 for the RAAS), approved and part of territorial government plan. This was the first such exercise.
  • Regional Councils RAAS and RAAN adopted a favorable cultural policy for the revitalization and management of cultural heritage assets, both tangible and intangible, and the creation, production and distribution of creative products in the Caribbean Coast.
  • Identification of 132 cultural indicators linked to economic development incorporated in the System of Cultural indicators of Indigenous and Afro Peoples, put together with representatives of all peoples and approved by the authorities.
  • Creation and establishment of Secretariats for Culture in each Autonomous Region and the appointment of focal points for each region.
  • Under the stewardship of the Ministry of Education, coordinated and implemented linguistic and cultural diversity validation of the contents of the curriculum from first to sixth grade.
  • Teachers in mainstream schools Bilwi and Bluefields were trained in the Intercultural Bilingual Education (IBE) and participated in exchanges with teachers from other regions of Nicaragua, which promoted the educational model of the Caribbean Coast and helped strengthen their identity.
  • Participation of 220 students of secondary and higher education in various processes and events of cultural revitalization through internships and workshops.


Outcome 3:

Studies generated, systematized and disseminated on the tangible and intangible cultural heritage and expressions of cultural diversity and creativity of indigenous peoples and Afro Caribbean Coast.


Outcome Achievements:

  • Systematization of relevant documentation materials on the Caribbean coast, which produced a first report on its status.
  • Edited, published and distributed various materials such as cultural  and intercultural notebooks, didactic books, magazines, supplements,  manuals, leaflets, a tourism promotional booklet, promotional posters and postcards. Additionally there were illustrative videos.
  • In partnership with the regional university BICU, capacity building of the Center for Research and Documentation of the Atlantic Coast (CIDCA) to manage and operate the Research Revitalization Center, which supported 107 initiatives of which more than 95 which were published in Wani magazine.


Outcome 4:

Strengthening of cultural identities of indigenous peoples and Afro Caribbean Coast through cultural and creative endeavors.


Outcome Achievements:

  • Community Artisans documented and identified skills and traditional practices in danger of disappearing and some which could be revitalized with the support of the program. Some skills revitalized included the use of the bow and arrow of the Rama people; sowing techniques with traditional vines and bark tissues of the Miskito women, the use of clay, and processing of rosewood of the Creole.
  • To promote innovative craft design lines, the programme linked the School of Design at the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua with artisans. This promoted the use of new materials and local resources from the Caribbean coast.
  • Artisan groups received training on entrepreneurship and business management marketing of their products, including practical experience of participation in regional and national exchange and networking with other groups.
  • Creation of five new crafts, 32 utilitarian and decorative handicrafts designed, and 18 new cultural products.
  • Creation of the Revolving Credit Fund and identification of indicators for monitoring the growth of business.
  • Support to the development of business plans for artisans, food producers and tourist services providers as well as technical assistance for submitting loan applications.
  • Funding of 98 business plans for micro and small crafts, food, tourism and creative enterprises, 60% of the beneficiaries were women.


Outcome 5:

Strengthening of cultural and natural heritage of indigenous peoples and Afro Caribbean Coast through responsible and sustainable tourism that contributes to social development and preservation of tangible and intangible heritage.


Outcome Achievements:

  • Identification of tourist routes with high cultural tourism potential. Viability studies were developed. Two tourist routes and seven tourist circuits involving 26 communities in the RAAN and RAAS were defined.
  • In consultation with the communities identified public spaces of historical and architectural significance for rehabilitation and four conservation plans were developed with sustainability plans.
  • Infrastructure needs were identified in 6 communities within tourism circuits to improve ability to care for tourists.
  • Courses and workshops to build the capacity of entrepreneurs involved in the promotion, operation and provision of tourist services, highlighting the link between tourism and culture.
  • A group of 106 tour guides from Bilwi, Bluefields and Corn Island were trained through a Diploma on Tourism.
  • Built four artisan  centers- Corn Island, Bluefield, and Laguna de Perlas Bilwi- to promote marketing of cultural products on the Caribbean coast.


Best Practices:

  • JP promoted collective learning about the theory and practice of cultural revitalization and creative production development from public policy, cultural venues and ventures.
  • The program worked on linking tourism and culture. Joint participation and exchange between cultural entrepreneurs and tourism operators was achieved generating mutual benefits.  
  • Joint work between the regional culture technical secretariat and commission with national institutions (Culture and Tourism).  
  • Support to regional Universities in researching and curriculum improvement (specialized courses on tourism and culture).   


Lessons Learned:

  • Importance of the political will and commitment of all partners to run the JP.
  • The need for coordination among participating government agencies. The leadership of Commissions of Regional Councils and the secretariats of the regional governments deepened the regional exercise. However, it required more coordination and communication between Commissions and Secretariats, as well with national ministries from the Central Government (culture, tourism, education, etc.).
  • Before scheduling infrastructure investment, it is important to establish whether there is a real demand for it and an ability to sustain it over time.
  • The need for prior awareness raising of the importance and relevance of traditional practices in order to ensure sustainability.
  • Missing a step in the process between the period of investment and final completion. The project ended before participants were in a position to deal with the lack of capital to continue operating.
  • It is important to ensure the various components are moving in parallel. Promotional materials were created but were not available in time for certain activities. While they were still useful, they did not have the same impact.
  • Evaluate UN Agencies technical capacity to assume specific specialized components, especially in complex programmes.


More details can be found in the documents below.

Recent Documents
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If you have questions about this programme you may wish to contact the RC office in Nicaragua or the lead agency for the programme.

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