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Disaster preparedness for climate change in Nicaragua

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This two-page briefing describes a pilot initiative on climate change and disaster risk reduction supported by the Netherlands Red Cross in Nicaragua. The project aims at strengthening the Nicaraguan Red Cross’s capacity to carry out local-level activities related to risk reduction and to respond to extreme weather events.
One of the aims of the project was to strengthen the image and efficacy of local Red Cross branches, and to bring together environmental scientists and technicians with the local communities and humanitarian aid organisations.
 Piloted in two communities in the Puerto Cabezas municipality (North Atlantic Ocean region) and in the Bluff (Bluefields municipality in the South Atlantic Ocean region), the project involved demonstrating and communicating tangible disaster prevention, mitigation and management activities in the high risk communities. Training, for example in damage/need assessment, shelter management, first aid, risk mapping, forest fire prevention, community health, water and sanitation took place as well as projects with community representatives in mangrove planting, and early warning.
The briefing highlights a number of lessons learned, which include:

mid- and long-term projects need to involve local communities and foster their ‘ownership’ of the programmes
communities’ existing capacities need to be identified and taken into account when designing awareness-raising strategies
it is important to build capacity-building and transition or exit strategies into such projects
it is necessary to train and educate local leaders in what the possible impact of climate change might be and ways to prepare and mitigate that risk
this type of project requires a long-term commitment in order to change attitudes, develop ‘best practices’ and encourage decision-making at all levels.