Bernis Cunningham (ELP 2015) | Legal Advisor, CAC Consultora Legal, Nicaragua
In Nicaragua, the governmental approach for the health crisis was different from the rest of the Latin American countries. In Nicaragua, the authorities never implemented a lockdown and public schools and sport activities continued in the country. The government argues that in our country, it is impossible to implement a lockdown. Since Covid-19 is not just a pandemic, it is also a political weapon, we will never know the real numbers. In my country, Covid-19 seems “under control.” It is not mandatory to wear a mask or to measure your temperature for entry to public facilities, shops, supermarkets or social activitie.
I am working on the Planting Change Foundation (PCF), this NGO was created in 2019 to build the capacity of grassroots organizations in Latin America to protect the environment and support the sustainable well-being of local communities.
The PCF works with 2,800 students in Nicaragua. Our organization implements environmental leadership programs in elementary schools in Nicaragua. Our activities are generally with students, but Covid-19 was a disaster for our 2020 strategy plan.
The private schools cancelled their activities. At this moment we started the long process of Zoom meetings to rethink 2020. Our outcomes: - we need to develop new ways of doing our environmental work. We decided to invest our time in project development, strengthened alliance with the private sector, promotional webinars and the construction of environmental infrastructure on the schools.
During 2020, we built a climate change monitoring station in two schools of Granada--one school consisting of 300 students and the other school consisting of 1200 students. The schools are owned by our partner Compañia Santa Teresa de Jesú.
On our climate change monitoring station, we receive data every day. This information is related to rain and temperature. The teachers and students have integrated the monitoring system methodology to the school curriculum.
Our goal is to transform elementary schools into research centers. This year, we will start our water monitoring center. We will build the capacity of students and teachers to use and implement water management scientific tools to monitor the quality of the community’s water resources.
Under the COVID-19 crisis, we had to adapt to a digital life. It is a complex issue of the “new normal,” virtual dynamics will never be as good as human connection.
The government will never fix all environmental problems. This approach is failing--we need to rethink our strategy. In our view, we should start a direct dialogue with the private sector. The commitment of the private sector with sustainable development goals has to be a key outcome of the non-governmental organizations work in the near future.