A disaster response volunteer greets Demzy Hodgson, a leader in the Miskito community.
Communications Manager, Marco Calvo, has been chatting with our team in Nicaragua, and NGOS Fundación A.Mar.Te and Accion Medica Christiana. Together, we are training leaders of Miskito indigenous communities in veterinary care and preparedness measures, designed to reduce suffering in the event of future disasters.
Last month, our disaster response teams began working with communities in the North Atlantic Autonomous region (RAAN) of Nicaragua, following a series of tropical storms. Serious flooding has affected thousands of animals used for used for trade and consumption, many having died following outbreaks of disease and pneumonia.
More than 5,000 people in 15 rural communities along the Prinzapolka River have also suffered. Learn more from Marco's blog, below:
“It used to be, that when an animal got sick we couldn’t do anything, just wait for it to die because we didn’t know about taking care of it. But now that they gave us these training things will be different. Now we’re not going to let them die. As leader, I feel very happy because I’m going to be able to help in my community.”
Those are the words of Demzy Hodgson, a 43-year-old member of the Miskito community after receiving training organised by the WSPA Disaster Management unit in his community of Prinzapolka, one of the impoverished settlements severely affected by flooding.
Demzy is the owner of eight cows and four horses, although he also raises pigs and hens on his farm. The animals provide food for his family and a means of obtaining money to survive by selling their meat. However, they had never been vaccinated or de-parasited, until WSPA arrived.
“A year and a half ago four cows died on me. While they were giving birth the uterus came out and I didn’t know what to do. Now that the doctors came, I won’t let this happen again and certainly not to my favorite cow Rita. Now I learned what to do to help her,” Demzy said, smiling.
Demzy receives veterinary care training.
If life is harsh for people in Prinzapolka and extremely tough for the animals. Official government data reveals that 77.7% of the population here lives in extreme poverty, and in communities like the one where Demzy lives, there are no health posts or hospitals, nor access to potable water or electricity. Most of the houses are located along the banks of the Prinzapolka River and, in the rainy season, both people and animals are completely exposed to flooding. Here, there are no emergency plans or veterinarians and the needs of animals take a distant second to the numerous human needs. That is, until people realise that the two are directly connected.
Dr. Sergio Vásquez, Veterinary Officer of WSPA Disaster Management for Mesoamerica and the Caribbean, explained to me: “During the assessment of flood damages, the inhabitants of Prinzapolka told us what they needed and that’s what we brought: tools to solve their problems themselves.”
Training in basic animal attention, risk management and medicine is part of the help that WSPA brings to these situations.
Keep checking back to learn more about our time spent with communities in Nicaragua.
Did you know
- The Miskito community rely on the resources the river provides.
- During harsh times, the Miskito put their animals on small floating devices to try and withstand the floods.
- The Miskito are famous for striking a deal with the British Empire in 1740 during the Conquista, to form a British "protectorate".
- Mikito communities are incredibly remote. It can take up to three days to reach the nearest point of civilisation.