Wildlife and Water Are Protected in Nicaragua
NEW YORK, Sept. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Women are leading the fight against climate change and other urgent environmental issues that confront the planet, according to Dr. Sarah Otterstrom, Executive Director of Paso Pacifico, at the Clinton Global Initiative.
In Nicaragua, women are leading reforestation efforts and have planted over 100,000 native trees. Their work has offset more than 150,000 tons of greenhouse gases and help protect watersheds that are crucial to the health of their communities. Paso Pacifico provides job training in entrepreneurship and forestry which enable women to build businesses and become leaders in their communities. "They are strengthened by our program," Otterstrom says, "but ultimately they are the ones who are making Paso Pacifico projects a success."
Paso Pacifico also uses this training model to help women protect their beaches from turtle egg poachers. Local campesinas learn about the endangered turtle species and are trained to patrol their local beaches. For each hatchling successfully protected they receive an incentive payment. Their monthly income equals a rural laborer's salary, but the job is flexible because women can coordinate their schedules. More than 10,000 turtles have been hatched due to the efforts of these women over the past two years. For the first time in 25 years ,endangered turtle eggs are hatching along the beaches in Southern Nicaragua.
As women in Nicaragua find their traditional roles expanding, they embrace new ideas and technologies to support themselves. For example, when the Portable Light Project and Paso Pacifico brought solar lamps to the communities, the women started to use the lights to patrol beaches, help their children with homework at night and cook for their families in predawn hours. "One woman told me how excited she was the first time she got up to feed her baby and make tortillas at four a.m." Otterstrom said. "She could do so in light instead of darkness. Something so inexpensive improves their lives dramatically."
Having caught the entrepreneurial bug, women are now opening their own businesses with Paso Pacifico's support. In one coastal community, women have opened a sea kayaking business, in another an eco-tourism guiding company and in a third an eco-lodge. All of these endeavors are successfully bringing tourism dollars into their local communities.
"This is what happens when you invest in women," says Dr. Otterstrom. "They are smart. We teach them how to use their skills to run a business and care for their natural resources, just as they care for their families and neighbors. Only now, they are earning money, empowering themselves, improving their community and helping the environment. It is win, win, win and we want to do more of it."
Paso Pacifico is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Ventura, California that works to protect Central America's Pacific slope ecosystems. The non-profit implements projects in environmental education, forest restoration and wildlife conservation. For more information, visit www.pasopacifico.org
SOURCE Paso Pacifico