Green communities strengthen their resiliance against climate change
El Salvador and Nicaragua
El Salvador and Nicaragua are heavily hit by climate change related environmental degradation. This project has been designed to strengthen the resilience of 25 communities badly affected by air and water pollution, loss of biodiversity as well as lack of drinkable water.
In both countries, the project was conceptualised in three phases: (1 and 2) strengthening ecological rights by planning, implementation, as well as monitoring and evaluating measures undertaken to protect the environment, and (3) building resilience to climate change both through adaptation and mitigation measures.
The project involved a group of children first and then, subsequently, it enlarged to the community through an active intergenerational dialogue. Overall, approximately 13,000 children, adolescents, youth, peasant families, community leaders and other important local representatives took part in the project in 25 communities.
The overall aim of the project was to promote the right of the child to a healthy environment, strengthen measures for environmental protection, and adopt initiatives to prevent the negative consequences of climate change and train communities to adapt to the effects of climate change (for instance the protection of water and natural resources, the promotion of sustainable agriculture, etc.).
»[Children] need to participate and have the central role in order to create intergenerational dialogue.« (Coordinator Central America and Mexico programme, Latin America Region)
The project started with children promoting their own ecological rights first via the school and then in the wider community. It carried on by fostering actions to counter-act climate change which included: improving trash collection, reducing pollution and development of green practices within the community.
In El Salvador, the partner organisation AMSATI promoted three legal initiatives to improve environmental conditions: Food Sovereignty Law (to prevent the use of toxic substances and pesticides); General Water Law; and The Agriculture and Family Law. The third law was approved to determine State’s responsibilities to provide guidance on building a sustainable model of production, based on techniques of agroecology, and to strengthen resilience to climate change for rural and indigenous farmers. Also, the General Water Law was approved. The Food Sovereignty Law is not yet approved, however, a trust for food sovereignty and the aid for agriculture in El Salvador was passed through a presidential decree.
In Nicaragua, in the municipality of La Sabana, 48 community leaders (29 women and 19 men) mobilised other community members to take actions to protect the environment after Hurricanes Eta and Iota hit the country. They also demanded that the municipality provide the means to clear the roads and to access clean water sources and obtained responses in 8 affected communities.
SPOTLIGHT ON… Methods of engagement
The Green Communities project in Nicaragua and El Salvador, as a good practice, involved children and young people using their phones and cameras to document environmental degradation. They also conducted research on what the landscape was like before their generation and introduced theatre by creating a play to portray the change in landscape morphology. This child-led mode of engagement proved to be highly successful and engaging across the whole community.
Results / M&E
The »Green Communities« project constitutes a notable good practice overall which led to brilliant results due to its innovative techniques. For instance, girls, boys, adolescents and young people have been trained in environmental protection. They know how to monitor and analyse adverse climatic conditions that affect them, propose adaptation and mitigation measures and manage their compliance at the community and social level. The project also presents a child-led monitoring and evaluation practice. Children, young people and the community created a series of indicators to measure how green a community is – they are called the »verdometro« (»green-o-meter«).
In El Salvador, the communities managed to protect fields used for farming by building dikes. In Las Sabanas (INPRHU) 100% of the farms implemented at least 3 good agroecological practices including the incorporation of stubble, the planting and incorporation of green manures, overall protection of water sources and the establishment of diversified systems under the agroforestry system design. In Jinotega (La Cuculmeca) 95% of the farms did the same. A total of 1,667 fruit trees were planted in an effort to promote sustainable agriculture and mitigate climate change related consequences: the trees, three years after being planted, will be able to capture 10 kilogrammes of CO2 each, making a total of 16.67 tons captured annually.
In Nicaragua, the project led to the improvement of infrastructure within the community which included better access to roads, improvement of school infrastructure to ensure children’s safety and protection, home latrines etc. This was done in an eco-friendly way, bearing in mind standards for the realisation of the right of the child to a healthy environment.
As follows ups, there are plans for a project extension in Mexico. Moreover, terre des hommes staff members working in Latin America aim to introduce a gender lens in the activities of child rights programming.