BUILD: Nicaragua Fall 2012 Updates

by tuftsigl
Nov 01


BUILD:Nicaragua is currently in the process of establishing a new program phase in Nicaragua. This is after a transition out of BUILD’s previous work in Santa Anita la Unión, Guatemala, a small community of ex-rebels that make a living primarily through coffee production. This collaboration involved ambitious projects to increase the production of coffee, improve agricultural practices, enhance the pre-existing ecotourism program and provide access to technology. Looking forward, BUILD is interested in engaging in similar areas of agriculture, infrastructure, education and technological development, but is also open to the concept of expanding to subfields like healthcare and microfinance.

BUILD spent a month of the past summer travelling around the Nicaraguan development hotspots of Managua, Granada, León and Estelí to meet with various NGOs in various subfields. BUILD’s main goal was to develop a surface understanding of the development culture in Nicaragua, which is key for any outsider development group. BUILD’s secondary goal was to establish a network of relationships with NGOs that could be potential partners in a development project.  BUILD achieved both of these objectives this summer.

BUILD’s third achievement this summer involved a substantial reconsidering of the process of self-directed project implementation that BUILD has taken in the past.  For various reasons, BUILD now seeks to alter its structure away from the model of self-implementation with NGO partners, towards a model of assisting NGOs with their own existing projects through internship placement. This model would also strengthen BUILD’s historical emphasis on on-campus self-study of development theory, which has always been a component of BUILD but which we believe should play a larger role in the BUILD experience.  Additionally, BUILD has taken an increasing interest in the process of design, monitoring and evaluation of development projects, and would like to place an increasing emphasis on this field both during on-campus study and in its NGO collaborations.

BUILD plans to make another trip to Nicaragua this winter to consolidate relations with potential NGO partners and to continue expanding its network of local relations.  During the spring semester BUILD then plans to organize a course in the design and implementation of monitoring and evaluation components of development projects, that would bring in weekly lecturers from Tufts, the Fletcher school and from other Boston schools and that would be mandatory for all members.

BUILD is currently in a transitory phase and as such is not currently implementing any specific projects. But BUILD has big plans for the next few years and is excited about the changes in agenda that it has been discussing. As any organization should, BUILD engages in a constant introspection on its strengths and weaknesses and it has therefore changed and grown in many ways since its founding. When BUILD discusses the possibility of altering its approach it is because it believes that can do an even better job addressing its fundamental mission to educate and immerse students in the theory and practice of sustainable development through partnerships in the development world.

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