Nicaraguan communities are adapting to climate change

Two people standing by the river
El Salto dam, Salale community, Nicaragua. Small producers visiting the construction process. Photo: Glomara Iglesias/ UNDP Nicaragua

Macario López Meléndez lives in Salale, a village in Nicaragua affected by climate variability: rain, high temperatures, hurricane winds, droughts and soil erosion. This humble smallholder farmer says that in the dry season of January to May, the community suffers from food and drinking-water shortages.

Consequently, UNDP and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA) developed a project in municipalities in western Nicaragua – El Sauce and Achuapa, Department of León, and Villanueva, Department of Chinandega. This US $5 million initiative, which began in 2011 and will end in 2015, is funded by the Adaptation Fund (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCC).


  • 1,100 people have benefitted from the project.
  • The communities are learning how to better use their water resources and conserve their sources, saving time and money.
  • The initiative is developed by UNDP and MARENA, and funded by the Adaptation Fund (UNFCC).

Today, Macario and his wife, Nellys Lanuza, are happy because an outlet was installed at the El Salto dam, where a 12-metre-long, 4-metre high concrete wall was constructed, as well as a steel submersible valve and pipe with 17 connections, for irrigating crops of several nearby farms.

"Before, it was very difficult to water our plantations. Even though we bought tubes and hoses with limited resources and installed them the best way we could, this work has added value to our lands. We are very excited because we produce more beans, maize and vegetables and greens to feed our community," says Macario, standing next to the dam.

Today, the communities are learning how to better use and conserve water. They are developing agro-ecological processing plans, including the construction of water catchment wells for soil infiltration, and are receiving technical assistance and equipment for the restoration of their plots. People from the community worked at the project in Salale.

"Partnering with UNDP is good because it is inclusive, and the whole community benefits from it," Macario said.

The project, "Reducing risk and vulnerability to floods and droughts in the Estero Real River Basin," has benefitted 1,100 people. The communities are more at ease because they have drinking water and can irrigate their crops, saving time and money.

The works planned by the Adaptation Fund are approved and implemented jointly with MARENA and local governments of Nicaragua. UNDP manages and facilitates the processes, and administers the resources.

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