Last Day in Nicaragua

Greetings from Masaya!

We are in the final legs of our trip and wrapping up all of the work that we have accomplished thus far. Since our last update, we have met with the organizations Infancia Sin Fronteras, MARENA, MINSA, ENEL, Beneficio San Francisco, and AVODEC. From meeting with these organizations, we have been able to obtain more information from perspectives of the government, the private sector, and NGOs.

IMG_5312
Meeting with MINSA in Matagalpa and Infancia Sin Fronteras

In the area of health, the common issues appear to revolve around respiratory illnesses, malnutrition, and maternal care. These problems are exacerbated by the lack of health centers and ambulances particularly within rural communities. These communities are often inaccessible by ambulances due to poor roads. Therefore, many individuals will die from otherwise preventable complications. A major source of health issues are attributed to poor hygienic practices and the lack of latrines. The absence of sanitation infrastructure and education leads to contaminated drinking water which in turn causes diarrhea, parasites, and skin diseases.

IMG_5321
Meeting with MINSA in Jinotega

Nicaragua has been making many efforts to preserve its environment. It focuses on renewable energy sources such as hydroelectricity, solar, and wind energy. Additionally, Nicaragua has been conducting large scale reforestation projects. Many producers also engage in harmful agricultural practices which lead to water contamination in Nicaragua’s rivers and lakes. Water contamination in Nicaragua’s freshwater sources can damage hydroelectric plants and negatively affect biodiversity. From our visit to a wet coffee processing plant, we saw that the practice of washing coffee beans greatly decreases the pH and adds a strong, sweet odor to the water. As Jinotega depends greatly on coffee, the region needs more environmentally friendly methods to treat the byproducts of coffee production.

FullSizeRender
Wet Coffee Processing Plant

We are excited to bring all of this information back to DHE in the winter. We have a few ideas in mind and are planning to narrow these ideas down with the feedback of other group members and faculty. This trip has been an eye-opening experience, and we are excited to see the impact that DHE can make in Nicaragua.

¡Hasta pronto!

-Angie, Aniksha, Daniel

IMG_2487
Final Day in Nicaragua!

 

 

 

Midpoint

Greetings from Jinotega! Since our touchdown in Managua we have visited El Porvenir, Asofenix, GRID Alternatives, Jubilee House, FUNICA, Seed of Learning, and CAPS. These groups have shared information about Nicaragua’s culture, healthcare, education, and current projects. Many of these ongoing and anticipated projects involve microirrigation, biogas, building infrastructure, health services, renewable sources of energy, sanitation, and accessibility to potable water. Success of the organizations is measured by sustainability of the project. The project is sustainable if the community can continue to use the technology effectively after the organization leaves. To accomplish this, the organization trains community members in the use and maintenance of the technology. Additionally, they ensure the community feels a sense of ownership towards the project.

IMG_5068
Meeting with Jubilee House
IMG_5093
Meeting with FUNICA

We are working with Bridges to Community to understand what is required for a successful project here in Nicaragua. The Bridges to Community model centers around using the money that comes from various projects to fund future projects. When BTC builds homes for families, each family will pay into a community fund. A committee made of community leaders then decides how this money is spent, funding communal infrastructure such as clinics and schools. With all of this in mind, DHE should pursue a project that will empower the community.

Meetings with these various organizations have also provided insight as to how DHE may select a community. Every organization we have spoken to will only work with communities that have expressed a certain level of commitment and interest in the project: communities usually demonstrate this by requesting help from the organization on their own. In the future, DHE may want to work alongside groups in the country that know of motivated communities. However, this does not mean that communities that do not seem initially committed to a project are turned away. In one example, a community in the Dominican Republic first approached BTC for help. BTC declined when the organization realized that the community was not motivated enough. Once the community realized that they had missed an invaluable opportunity, they returned to BTC ready to fully commit to the project.

We were able to speak with the committee members of two communities that BTC has worked with in the past, El Sasle and El Mojon communities. The economy of these communities centers around growing crops including coffee and vegetables. There is a high need for health clinics, houses, potable water, and sanitation systems.  By speaking with these committee members, we were able to learn about the lifestyles within the community and the issues they hope to address in the future. We hope to continue our work with these inspiring individuals who strive to make positive changes in their communities.

Committee members of El Mojón
Committee members of El Mojón

Outside of work, we also celebrated the birthday of one of our team members. ¡Feliz cumpleaños Aniksha!

Aniksha and her cake!
Aniksha and her cake!

From this point forward, we will continue meeting with various organizations to learn as much as we can with our remaining time. We are very excited to bring all of our knowledge back to Dartmouth in the winter term. Please continue to stay tuned for updates!

Off to Nicaragua!

Greetings!

Today, three DHE students will be embarking to Nicaragua on a 15-day project assessment trip. The ultimate goal of the trip is to identify a problem within a community located in Jinotega, a city in the north-central region of Nicaragua, that DHE can work on in the future. We hope to create a new project to take the place of the current bioenergy division that aligns with DHE’smission of providing sustainable, affordable, and socially-conscious solutions for communities in need.

The team consists of three students with varying specialties and expertise. Daniel Martinez ’15 is the trip leader and finance lead, and he plans to graduate with a BA in Engineering and a minor in computer science as well as a BE in June 2015. Aniksha Balamurugan ’16 is the partnership and business lead, and she is pursuing a BA in Biomedical Engineering. I’m Angie Lee, and I am a ’17 who is the lead on impact analysis. I am pursuing a Romances Languages major with Spanish and French concentrations. I also study the theory of probability and apply this knowledge to practice on the website http://betsson-casino.nl (online casino). We have all been involved with DHE during our undergraduate careers, and we are excited to utilize our skills to make this a productive trip!

In Nicaragua, we will be working closely with Bridges to Community, an international NGO that works to improve the lives of communities in need within Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Bridges to Community has helped us schedule meetings with a diverse range of groups spanning from representative government officials to different NGO’s. Some examples of the NGO’s that we are planning to meet are El Porvenir, Asofenix, and AVODEC. Outside of the meetings, we will also be integrating ourselves into the community to begin understanding how locals live, needs they may want addressed, and looking for potential problems within the community ourselves.

Ideally, through all of our work during these 15 days, we hope to identify a problem that DHE can feasibly solve to bring back to Dartmouth. In turn, we can begin deriving a human-centered solution for the problem.

Please stay tuned on this blog to read more about our travels and progress!