Trees Water & People

Trees, Water & People is committed to improving people's lives by helping communities to protect, conserve and manage the natural resources upon which their long-term well-being depends. We believe that natural resources are best protected when local people play an active role in their care and management.
Sep 3, 2015

Local People Help Shape the Curriculum at NiCFEC

Don Enrique at the coffee farm in Chachagua
Don Enrique at the coffee farm in Chachagua

The Nicaraguan Center for Forests, Energy and Climate (NiCFEC) has been designed and developed for people who want to improve their lives while protecting the environment. This education and research facility will provide visitors with hands-on learning opportunities that can be applied in their day-to-day lives. From subsistence farmers to young college students, this will be a place where community is created and learning is fostered.

On a recent visit to the rural community of Chachagua, in the north central region of Nicaragua, we had the opportunity to live and learn with local campesino families, the very people who will benefit most from NiCFEC and the resources it will offer.

Coffee dominates the economy and way of life in this region of the country and one of our first activities was a visit to one of the local cafetales (coffee plantations). The campesino (farmer) who led our tour, Don Enrique, estimates that up to 80% of the families in Chachagua depend on coffee for their livelihoods. The campesino knowledge and awareness is acute - we are talking about people who live and work the land from a very young age, braving the climate, rain or shine, heat or cold. Through this traditional monitoring and evaluation of the natural environment many farmers, like Don Enrique, have indicated time and again that they have seen a marked uptick in hotter days over the last 7-10 years. They are extremely concerned about the potential impacts on their community and their livelihood: the coffee lifeline. This has been corroborated by this past summer’s (February-May) intense heat wave that brought record temperatures to Matagalpa, Jinotega, Esteli and Ocotal, the main coffee processing hubs[1].

According to some estimates, coffee represents anywhere from 20-25% of agricultural export revenue in both Honduras and Nicaragua. The economic importance of the crop cannot be overstated, and in the rural areas that are far from the main and even secondary roads in Honduras and Nicaragua, there are extremely limited opportunities for scratching out a living. If the coffee crops continue to struggle and should they ultimately fail, the coffee-dependent communities in these regions will likely see increases in internal migration and immigration, higher rates of malnutrition, poorer educational conditions, and general socioeconomic malaise.

“We need to plant more trees to have healthier soils and better air. As the cities grow we need to protect our forests.” Said Don Enrique, who sees pollution in large urban centers like Managua as a major cause of climate change.  

Visiting and working with rural communities like Chachagua for the past 18 years has given TWP staff and partners insight into how climate change is having a direct, negative impact on families. We have seen and heard that there is a strong need for crop diversification, reforestation, conservation and overall forest management as well as clean cookstoves and small-scale renewable energy systems. The NiCFEC will give people like Don Enrique the opportunity to learn from the experts in these areas and take this knowledge home to their families and communities.

We hear climate deniers in the U.S. continue to debate whether climate change is even real. I invite them to visit with the farmers we work with, whose crops and livelihoods have been devastated by a changing climate, and tell them not to worry about it. This is a very real issue and we hope to be a part of the solution. Thank you for joining us by supporting the Nicaraguan Center for Forests, Energy & Climate!

 

[1] http://www.elnuevodiario.com.ni/nacionales/315963-nicaragua-va-perdiendo-zonas-frescas/

Agriculture and forests compete for space
Agriculture and forests compete for space
Jul 15, 2015

Happy Bonus Day! Donations matched 50% today

Paul Shields
Paul Shields

Today is a Bonus Day on GlobalGiving.org, which means your gift will be matched by 50%, making an even bigger impact for a family in need. 

Working with EARTHinBLOCK and Lakota Solar Enterprises, we are building a new and sustainable compressed earth block (CEB) home for Paul Shields, his wife, and three girls, a Lakota family living on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Can you give a donation today to help build a home for Paul's family?

Today - and today only - your donation will be increased by 50% with the GlobalGiving matching fund. Even the smallest gift will go a long way. Help us build a home that the Shields can live in safely and be proud to call their own.

Yakoke,
  
Jamie Folsom
National Director

Breaking ground on the new home!
Breaking ground on the new home!
Jun 25, 2015

A Blessing Ceremony for the Shields Family

Blessing Ceremony for Shields Family
Blessing Ceremony for Shields Family
"Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice. You lived first, and you are older than all need, older than all prayer. All things belong to you - the two-legged, the four-legged, the wings of the air, and all green things that live.
You have set the powers of the four quarters of the earth to cross each other. You have made me cross the good road and road of difficulties, and where they cross, the place is holy. Day in, day out, forevermore, you are the life of things."
- Black Elk: Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux

Last weekend volunteers from St. John's United Church of Christ in Denver, Colorado joined Henry Red Cloud, owner of Lakota Solar Enterprises, and Trees, Water & People staff for a blessing ceremony at the site of Paul Shields' future home. Henry led the ceremony with a traditional Lakota prayer, blessing the land where the compressed earth block (CEB) home will be built later this summer. The volunteer group from Denver also offered a prayer to the family as they prepare to build this new home.

Spirituality is critical to the traditional Lakota way of living. Wakan Takna - the Great Spirit - receives thanks for everything on Earth. The Lakota people are full of pride, honor, and dignity. These cultural elements are kept humble and true through prayer and deeply-rooted faith.

This recent ceremony marks the beginning of a new life for the Shields family, who are currently living in a dilapidated trailer that lacks proper heating and plumbing, among other basic amenities. The new CEB home is designed to be energy efficient and affordable, providing the family with a dignified place to call home.

Building this new home for the Shields Family is truly a community effort, bringing together people from around the country who are providing time and donations to complete the home. Thank you for your continued support! We hope you will share this project with a friend and ask them to contribute too.

Mitakuye Oyasin ( We are all related)

Paul and his children meet new friends
Paul and his children meet new friends
Henry Red Cloud prays for the Shields Family
Henry Red Cloud prays for the Shields Family
 
   

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