How you can support Nicaragua, even from afar

Since 19 April 2018, Nicaragua has undergone one of the heaviest sociopolitical crises the country has seen in decades. Protests erupted when the government attempted to cut social security benefits, leading to a violent crack-down on protesters that for several hundred also ended in torture and death.

This particularly painful and difficult period has left much of the country and its people without means of income and ways to support themselves and their families. Especially those making a living through local tourism have experienced a steep drop in travellers visiting the country. As a result, many local tour operators have lost the income and means that once sustained them. 

Once such local tour operator heavily affected by the crisis is Matagalpa Tours. With a desire to continue using sustainable tourism as a force for good, they have set up a conservation and education programme for local youth called Agualí. With expertise in guided tours and environmental sustainability, their staff is well equipped to lead free, guided nature tours and educational activities. Their dream is to use this initiative to stimulate local knowledge and sustainable practices from a young age, and to use nature as a space for mental and emotional healing from the impacts of the crisis.

Wondering what you can do?

Join us in raising funds for Agualí, a local initiative setting up an environmental conservation and education program. Every little bit helps.

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The Agualí project in detail
“Healthy Forests, Healthy People”
  • While this project has been up and running for several years, the combined dependence on tourism income and the hit tourism took during the crisis has meant a cut in funding for the project.
  • In addition to keeping the programme running for the local population, the income generated from the Agualí initiative will go towards supporting the local Matagalpa Tours staff and associated guides and drivers affected by the crisis.
  • The primary activity they run is free nature and environmental education tours for local youth, families and communities to learn about their natural surroundings.
  • These excursions through nature also provide the local population with a safe and healthy way of processing and recovering from the emotional turmoil of the crisis.
  • In addition to free tours, the project also focuses on combating illegal logging and hunting, replanting deforested areas, creating walking paths, providing information services, setting up infrastructure (such as natural playgrounds) and repairing protective fences.
  • Their dream is to one day set up an environmental education centre and biology research station in the area.

The Nicaragua Crisis

How it developed

In April 2018, massive anti-government protests broke out in reaction to social security and pension cuts. The government responded by issuing a crackdown on protesters. Social media footage of the violent repression sparked outrage and further protests, which led to further repression, leaving several hundred dead or missing and thousands injured. As the protests developed, they transitioned into a wider opposition of President Daniel Ortega and his government. Daniel Ortega, a former left-wing guerrilla who helped overthrow the Somoza dictatorship in the late 1970s, was elected to power in 2007. He was re-elected in 2016, after pushing for a change in the constitution allowing Nicaraguan presidents to serve for an unlimited number of terms.

What the situation is now

Because of the ongoing protests as well as strikes, many businesses have been suffering. Particularly the tourism industry has taken a hard hit. Many Western travellers have been advised by their governments against visiting the country. As a result, numerous staff in hotels, resorts and tour operators have lots their jobs as tourism revenue has plunged. Economic losses have been estimated at $230m and over two-thirds of small hotels and nearly a third of restaurants have closed. While 120,000 people were employed in the tourism sector, about 70,000 have lost their jobs.

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