Sitio Historico – Survival of a rural society and maintenance of their environment

Casas nuevas en Pancasán, Sitio Histórico, NicaraguaThe "Sitio Historico" project of SofoNic implemented in the municipality of Matiguas in the north of Nicaragua contributes to the survival of the rural society and maintenance of their environment. Through a multi-faceted approach that includes house construction and improvements to daily life, reforestation, and a vertical shaft brick kiln (VSBK), the beneficiaries are trained in different themes toward this end.

The next issues of the e-magazine will highlight the major aspects of this development, as related by Claudia Wild, beginning in this issue with the improvements of daily life reflected in house construction and related measures.

Sitio Historico: Survival of a rural society and maintenance of their environment (by Claudia Wild)

Focus on housing and improvements
  The region of Pancasan / Sitio Histórico was heavily affected by the civil war in the 80ies and the majority of the population live below the poverty line, earning their money with agriculture and as day labourers on farms. Emigration is quite high.

Living conditions are not pleasant: the people live in insecure and unhealthy one room huts made of bricks or wood; the water is unsafe because a secure storage system does not exist; the open fire kitchen fills the huts with smoke. Further, there is a lack of knowledge considering hygiene. 

Casa vieja en Sitio Histórico

 

Measures to simplify lives
This situation is addressed through the following measures to improve the lives of 80 beneficiaries and their families. The construction of 80 houses, kitchen stoves, water recipients and latrines form the part of the project that serves to improve everyday life.

To have their own house after many years is something special for the families.

In groups of six or seven beneficiaries plus one mason, together they construct the three-room houses.

Casa Nueva en Pancasán

 

People learn to live in a more dignified way.
Reduction of health problems caused by the smog from the traditional open fire kitchen is aided through construction of kitchen stoves with a chimney. The hygiene aspect is considered by building this type of kitchen stove, as well as a latrine and a water recipient for water storage. To ensure that the beneficiaries know how to use the new elements in their daily lives the SofoNic team organizes various trainings about different themes. In addition to training about how to build and use the kitchen stoves and water recipients, the team introduces themes such as family planning, the use of contraceptives etc., even themes like political constitution and municipal law.

 Old kitchensitio_cocina_vieja_002

 New kitchensitio_cocina_001


After finishing their houses the beneficiaries begin to pay their debt and continue during a seven year period. Most people work in the agricultural sector and have agreed to pay their instalments every six months which conforms to the harvest. As the doors and windows are not part of the project, they have to organize the money to pay for them.

The involvement of the beneficiaries in the project is very high. During the participatory design session they worked in groups and designed five different houses from which they could choose their preferred one. Thanks to their participation in the construction of the houses they have realised that the value of a house is much more than its material worth, it is the whole labour effort which enriched the houses. The participation not only means helping the masons with their work, but also implies taking responsibility for reception of the material and checking the hours worked by the others on his terrain. All this implies that the beneficiary feels like the proprietor of the project which encourages his self-esteem.

You are here: Home Past editions Edition 24 - February 2007 Sitio Historico – Survival of a rural society and maintenance of their environment

Consultants

Kurt RhynerKurt Rhyner
Architect, PhD. Professor
Spanish, English, German, French.
Project conception, analysis of technologies and materials appropriate to the specific situation, financial analysis, executive management, backstopping, evaluations

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In 2005, SofoNic has started a dual education program for masons in Nicaragua, using its house-building programs as a base. Teaming up with the local technical school in Jinotepe they are graduating about ten masons every year since. Most f them have found jobs in construction or have started a business on their own. SofoNic has contracted several of them as master masons in the reconstruction programs in Haiti.