Executive Director’s Update: Nicaragua

Keith Frausto, Namlo's Executive Director

Keith Frausto, Namlo’s Executive Director

Over the past few months, there has been considerable discussion in Namlo about our involvement in Nicaragua. When I joined as Executive Director last year, we began reviewing Namlo’s work in Nicaragua, and had a series of discussions with the Namlo board and staff about the future direction of the program. We began by looking at Namlo’s investments, results of the programs, and our engagement with the communities. In January of this year, myself and board members Dale Rademacher and John Rehl visited all four of the communities in which Namlo has been operating since 2006, including El Quebracho, Los Pinares, Barrio Nuevo, and El Salmeron, to have discussions with community members concerning our past, present and future work together.

Albeit a brief trip, we concluded that Namlo needed to re-invest and re-engage in Nicaragua, because of continued prevalence of poverty in the communities (not to mention Nicaragua as a whole), continued opportunities to improve basic living conditions, and the enthusiasm expressed by community members of continuing to work with Namlo.

Namlo team visits school

Namlo team visits school

Not being satisfied with just our hunches, in March we asked our social mobilizer in Nicaragua to design and implement surveys to try to establish some baseline indicators that reflect conditions and the quality life in the communities. As part of this surveying process, we also included questions regarding community members’ perceptions of Namlo and where they thought we together might concentrate our future efforts. In the future, in both Nicaragua and Nepal, we’ll be including such “customer feedback” surveys with our communities to gauge our performance as an ngo.

Rosario Velazquez Moreno, implementing the community survey

Rosario Velazquez Moreno, implementing the community survey

Also in March, our new Program Manager Tim Gibb also took the initiative to conduct a field survey in the four communities that specifically looked at nutrition and “dietary diversity” in order to get an understanding of the general nutritional practices and conditions, and to what extent community members could benefit from initiatives that targeted horticultural production, nutrition and incomes. Keep in mind the fact that in Nicaragua around 25% of children under five suffer from stunting as a result of dietary deficiencies – a huge obstacle to their potential educational performance and intellectual development.

NEXT POST:  Some results from the survey, and upcoming activities planned in Nicaragua