However, the country also has abundant natural assets. Nicaragua has 7 per cent of the world’s biodiversity and 57 per cent of Central American species. The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA) has registered 74 private and 76 public protected areas, including the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve, home to the country’s largest unbroken expanse of forest. Deforestation continues, however, especially along the Atlantic coast.With Lake Nicaragua, the country has the largest freshwater reserve in Central America. Nonetheless, water resources are scarce, especially in the Pacific lowland region and the mountainous region of central Nicaragua, and the quality of drinking water is poor.
It is important to note that the country meets more than 50 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources.The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been working in Nicaragua on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) since the 1980s. The water sector is the focus of its work. GIZ advises its Nicaraguan partners on ways of improving the drinking water supply and sanitation and sustainably managing water resources in urban areas.
GIZ is also engaged in various regional and global programmes and, within this framework, provides advice on energy efficiency, rural electrification and the conservation and management of natural resources.Development workers assigned to non-governmental organisations and integrated experts at universities and research institutes are working on energy efficiency, renewable energy use and issues of economic relevance, such as business start-ups and corporate social responsibility.
As a result of GIZ’s cooperation with its Nicaraguan partners, 50,000 people in areas with a poor water supply now have better access to drinking water: availability has increased from three hours a few days a week to eight hours daily, and water quality has also improved. Urban districts which once had to pay very high prices for water and transport it over long distances now have their own water supply system.Water catchment area committees have been set up in two catchments. They involve representatives of municipalities, the private sector and civil society, who take decisions on the use of water resources. Women make up 30 per cent of the committees’ management staff. In both catchments, water management plans are in place, contributing to the conservation and sustainable management of water resources.
The research institute FUNIDES now has more influence, thanks to Germany’s support. It is making its voice heard in the public debate and is contributing to opinion-forming and policy-making on sustainable economic development.In 2014, the La Salle Foundation – with support from GIZ – set up Nicaragua’s first research and development institute focusing on energy and environmental technologies.
In the dry forests of the Pacific region, nine new private protected areas have been created. They protect and manage three bio-corridors, thus expanding the habitats of many species of fauna.On behalf of BMZ, GIZ facilitated the establishment of a National Dry Forest Alliance, which contributes to the programme for the sustainable management of dry forests in Nicaragua.
All the various development initiatives take account of the impacts of climate change. Gender, ethnic and intergenerational equality is mainstreamed in the work programmes.
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