In September I led a delegation to Nicaragua. I knew from the beginning of planning that El Regadio was a 'must visit' for our participants. The leaders and activists of El Regadio are some of the most committed and effective in Northern Nicaragua. They are led by Don Augusto, a founding member and the current President of the Federation of Campesinos (FEDICAMP).
Our visit coincided with a day of community training, led by FEDICAMP Promoter Ecka. The morning started with a screening of a documentary on the impact of plastic. Those in attendance were intimately familiar with the problem, because there is an informal dumping place for plastic trash on the edge of town. They discussed alternatives to plastic containers and the global context of consumption, waste, and environmental degradation.
Climate Change soon became the center piece of the conversation. Subsistence farmers in Nicaragua's northern mountains are experiencing the effects and grappling with the implications in their day to day lives. At one point, an old man in the back of the room raised his hand and addressed the crowd.
"In the United States, they don't even believe in climate change. The politicians say it isn't happening. How can our little country make a change when this is the state of mind in the United States?"
The response from Augusto was profound.
"Think about a child in the United States. He wakes up each morning in the air conditioning. He eats food cooked inside a kitchen with climate control. He rides to school in a car with air conditioning and learns in a classroom with air conditioning. When he goes home to his house that keeps the world outside, the temperature is controlled. His entire life is shielded from the climate. Climate Change is not real for him because he does not live it."
Nicaragua cannot solve climate change, but FEDICAMP is working with those most vulnerable to its effects to find community-based adaptation and mitigation systems. Their efforts make vulnerable communities more resilient in the face of the coming changes.