Climate Vulnerability, Adaptation, and Grassroots Renewable Energy in Nicaragua: A case study responding to the El Niño of 2015-2016 in Las Mariitas, Somotillo, Chinandega
The Major Research Project examines the application of Community Based Adaptation practices in the community of Las Mariitas, municipality of Somotillo in Chinandega, Nicaragua. The study takes particular interest in community based renewable energy projects and how these technologies are applied to improve resiliency alongside other adaptation strategies during droughts such as that of the El Niño of 2015-2016. In collaboration with the Humboldt Center, a leading Nicaraguan NGO dedicated to environmental advocacy, this research documents the benefits, deficiencies, and opportunities provided by these technologies in responding to climate vulnerabilities and environmental threats. This study applies participatory action research and mixed methods to analyze socioecological risks and vulnerabilities in Las Mariitas, as well as the Community Based Adaptation practices, socio-economic activities, and supportive civil society networks that work to improve resiliency and adaptation. The study applies an action oriented research framework called “the Approach to Designing Energy Delivery Models for People Living in Poverty”, which cumulated in the creation of a community energy project proposal that responds to the energy gaps and opportunities identified through field work and conversations with residents in Las Mariitas. The study concludes that climate and socio-environmental risks, including future El Niño drought patterns, natural resource exploitation, and socio-political crisis as of April 19, 2018, are likely to place strains on community health, wellbeing, and the local environment. Furthermore, residents in Las Mariitas engage in multifaceted approaches and income generating activities to improve overall climate resiliency and adaptation, including development projects, business ventures, migration, and sustainable agriculture, with support from external civil society networks and internal community organizations. Community energy projects contribute positively to community health and wellbeing with high appreciation from the community despite of the costs and deficits that may occur in implementation. The study recommends future inquiry into climate vulnerability indexes and Community Based Adaptation strategies in rural communities in Nicaragua through Participatory Action Research methods.