Land Acquisition and Sustainability in Nicaragua

Nicaragua is the second poorest country in Latin America after Haiti.  Poverty is largely a rural problem in Nicaragua where two out of three people struggles to survive on little more than US$1 per day.  The most vulnerable people in rural areas include the families of small-scale farmers and landless farm workers. Most families live on marginal land, where water is scarce. Still, 80 per cent of the rural poor depend on agriculture for their livelihood, causing a severe strain on the fragile environment. Rural people's dependence on just a few crops (sorghum and maize in the lowlands and beans and vegetables in the highlands) makes them very vulnerable to market variations and climatic conditions. Recent droughts have seriously affected food security and sources of income.

Ten years of civil war between 1980 and 1990 and an economic crisis that began in 1987 have caused the collapse of the country's economy. Environmental disasters such as Hurricane Mitch, which caused extensive destruction and loss of life in November 1998, have also worsened conditions for the rural poor. Because of limited employment opportunities and inadequate infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity supplies, the incomes and productivity of poor rural people remain at low levels. In 2001, only one out of five extremely poor rural households had access to electricity. Poor people in rural areas face many constraints, including physical isolation, fragile ecosystems, difficult access to land and other natural resources, low productivity of soils, obstacles to market access and lack of public services such as education and health and legal services.

In this unique one-week experience into Nicaragua, students and their parents will be working with Agros International, a faith-based organization that helps rural poor in Latin America escape the cycle of generational poverty through an integrated, long-term approach of land acquisition and sustainable village building.  Agros purchases land that can support farming families who in turn work together to “build a village” by establishing basic housing, sanitary latrines, clean water and a democratically-elected governing structure.  Our team will visit four different Agros villages and participants will have the opportunity to build direct relationships with village members though meetings, home visits, farming, crafts, and communal celebrations.  To learn more about Agros, visit http://www.agros.org/index.cfm 

This trip is an exciting “student-parent model” opportunity that will help families understand the value of solidarity via a thriving model of sustainable development.  The trip typically runs for a week in July.

Applications are available in the Campus Ministry office (OM 207) or can be downloaded here (.pdf). Applications are due on or before Wednesday, October 15.

For further information, contact Lu Firestone at x 2422 or firestol@canisius.edu