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Productive Home-Communities and Local Development in Managua

Keyword: Poverty Eradication


" Create capacities and transfer resources to low income communities and municipalities, in order to generate a participatory and sustainable process contributing to self management of their own development to reach a better quality of life. " This process is actively integrated within the national society and the increasing globalization of the economy. Basic aspects of the complex situation of deprivation affecting low-income populations have been understood as unique opportunities to solve them. This means mobilizing and using the potentialities and resources of the families of those settlements and municipal authorities, stimulated by key actions.


In 1988 an initial proposal was prepared for improving the living conditions of the poor, within the UNDP/UNCHS Regional Project to Overcome Poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean. In April 1989 a preliminary document "The Productive Home and Urban Community" - Suggestions for the development of productive activities as a basis for improvement of poor urban settlements - was submitted officially to the XII Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Settlements, held in Cartagena, Colombia. Following that initiative, demonstration projects were formulated and implemented in Venezuela (included in the Housing Policy Law 1989), in Colombia (included in the National System for Social Housing Law 1990) and in Paraguay, disseminated thereafter. In September 1989 starts a preliminary project formulation of CUP in "Rene Cisneros" neighborhood. In October 1992 starts the project CUP "Rene Cisneros". In January 1994 starts a transfer of the CUP experience, within a Local Development Programme in six municipalities of Managua department. In December 1994 starts a transfer of the CUP experience to eight neighborhoods in Managua city. By March 1995, the CUP "Rene Cisneros" is starting to be sustainable. The six municipalities are consolidating its sustainability. The eight neighborhoods are initiating activities for its sustainability, and it is starting a transfer of the CUP and Local Development experience to Southern-East and Atlantic Regions of Nicaragua.


In the "Rene Cisneros" neighborhood, 70% of the economically active population was unemployed and underemployed ; 80% of families had an income lower than the minimum wage ; women could not afford loans and training for productive activities ; 60% of the houses were made of waste materials and crowded ; there was neither drinking water supply nor sanitation ; streets were unpaved ; there were no healthcare services for women and children ; primary schools were far away ; children care services covered less than 20% of the total demand ; there were no organizations and infrastructure for sports and other recreational activities ; the population was organized in politically opposite groups fighting with each other ; there were neither any support for job creation and income generating activities nor for housing infrastructure and social services improvement. In this neighborhood 650 families - 4,000 inhabitants - are living since 1982, resettled following the Managua lake flood.

In low income municipalities of the Managua department and neighborhoods in Managua city, the population had similar deprivations and lack of support for improving the quality of life, as shown for the "Rene Cisneros". Additionally in those municipalities, rural settlements had even lower living conditions and were constrained to deforest in order to survive. In the six municipalities and eight neighborhoods of Managua are living 30,000 families with 180,000 inhabitants, and 4,000 families with 24,000 inhabitants, respectively.

Managua city has about 1,000,000 inhabitants and 640,000 of them are living in 210 settlements similar to the "Rene Cisneros" neighborhood, with a total of about 100,000 families. In the Southern-East Region are living 110,000 families with 670,000 inhabitants on similar levels of deprivation as Managua. In the Atlantic Region are living 30,000 families with 180,000 inhabitants in more severe conditions of deprivation than Managua.


In the "Rene Cisneros" neighborhood, around 200 permanent jobs have been consolidated or created. About 150 families have increased their income above minimum salary. 40% of loans have been addressed to women and they participated in training courses for productive activities. A demonstration Productive Home has been build and housing improvement loans have benefited 60 families. Potable water supply and sewage systems are now benefiting 650 families. Streets will be paved this year. Women are receiving healthcare services. A community primary school is operating in the neighborhood, covering the demand. Community children care service will be implemented this year. A basketball field and playground have been built, and baseball teams have been organized. An Association of CUP (ACUP) has been created with juridical status, and a technical team integrated by a manager, an accountant and a promoter ; started with less than 300 members a year ago, who elected democratically the governing board, and has now more than 600 members. The ACUP manage a revolving fund of US$ 130,000 having provided loans for productive activities (120) and housing (60), with 6% delay for repayment, as well as manage the provision of other community services and activities for improving living conditions. Opposite groups are now working together for the improvement of the neighborhood.

In the six municipalities, around 2,200 permanent jobs have been consolidated or created, 1,800 of them in rural areas. About 2,000 families have increased their income above minimum salary. 45% of loans have been addressed to women, who participated on training courses. Initially 10 houses have been self-constructed by assisted mutual aid, 300 will follow this year and 300 more next year. Wells, latrines, water supply, sewage, streets pavement, healthcare centers, primary schools and sport fields will be built this and next year. Community children care services have started to be implemented. A municipal association for local development is under organization, with a local development office integrated by a coordinator, an administrative-accountant and a promoter-trainer already operating in each municipality. Each local development office manage a revolving fund of US$ 115,000 having provided loans for productive urban (50) and rural activities (250), with 4% delay for repayment, as well as manage the provision of other community services and activities for improving living conditions. The six municipal associations will conform a departmental corporation for supporting the above mentioned integrated development activities.


A key factor has been creating capacities and transfer resources for low income communities and municipalities, in order to generate a participatory and sustainable process contributing to self-management of their own development. This process is actively integrated within the national society and the increasing globalization of the economy.

The basis of the proposal is to foster the existing and potential economic activities of the municipalities and communities. This improvement of the productive basis is essential but is not enough for the improvement of the quality of life. Additionally there is a need for rescue self-esteem and dignity by low-income populations, developing activities with their direct participation. They are: 1) employment and income generation, 2) housing and infrastructure improvement, 3) social services provision.

These three fields of activities are essential for solving deprivations already mentioned. But developing efficiently those activities needs: a) organization and active participation of the involved population, b) training and technical assistance to local leaders and micro-producers to be transformed in entrepreneurs, c) appropriate financing for production of commodities and services.

Main lessons learnt were:
I) These processes are complex and slow, but they can be simplified and accelerated, if an integrated and progressive implementation approach is adopted, with the organized participation of all the actors involved, and appropriate methodologies and technologies.
II) The programming and implementation of actions at the local level, in the communities and municipalities, allows the application of the integrated development approach. This facilitates synergetic processes maximizing existing resources and reducing implementation costs of activities, satisfying properly basic needs of the involved population.

Capacities and mechanisms have been created to manage development locally at municipal and community level. With an appropriate support, organization and structure, they generate a dynamic process contributing increasingly to a tangible improvement in the quality of life and in the living environment of participating people, in a sustainable way, particularly the low-income families.
At the national level a management team in INIFOM coordinate and is conducting the whole process, and will be institutionalized as a central bureau of INIFOM promoting and supporting these initiatives.

At municipal level, the local development offices will be the technical team of the Association and together will constitute the Corporation at the departmental level. At the community level CUP Associations operate with the governing board and managerial team, and could be members of municipal associations.

The financial resources for the revolving funds come from direct transfer of seed capital provided by donors (presently UNDP, European Community and Sweden), but progressively will come from long term credits. The loan conditions offered by the revolving funds allow a quick recovery of the capital and maintenance of its constant value, as well as generate income for covering operational costs and capitalization.

Housing is understood, following the practical use of number of low-income families, as a place for developing productive activities in addition of lodging. All productive loans have been for activities developed at home. This facilitate also the payment for housing improvement, taking into consideration that families are generating employment and income at home.

Nicaraguan Housing Bank (BAVINIC) is financing self-help housing, following the solutions implemented in the municipalities, and the Productive Home has been included in its policy as a priority programme.
The Fund for Emergency Social Investment (FISE) and Public Services Institutions are financing the infrastructure works, providing the communities, in some cases labor force.

United Nations Volunteers from Nicaragua are participating as promoters-trainers and will be incorporated as members of the municipal teams. NGOs (as CEPRODEL) and government institutions are providing training and technical assistance.

University students of last years of sociology and recently graduated professionals on animal science, are participating voluntarily on supporting communities for implementing children care services and rabbit-poultry micro-granges, respectively, through INIFOM-Universities agreements.
Simplified hydroponic technology has been transferred for vegetables micro-gardens, as a complementary income generating activity and for improving diet.

A low-cost seismic resistant building technology has been transferred in the demonstration house, allowing two storeys for better use of the Productive Home.


  • 2,400 permanent jobs created/consolidated;
  • 2,150 families increased income;
  • 800 women received loans;
  • 6 municipal and community associations were organized;
  • 500 potable water and sewage connexions were supplied;
  • 300 houses are under construction by self-help.


In less than two years of activities the initial proposal was replicated in several locations for further massification. Top priority was to tackle unemployement/underemployement and lack of income through job self-creation and income generating activities. Results were, 3 out of 10 families from "Rene Cisneros" neighborhood have increased their income above minimum salary. Loans have been provided to 1 out of 3 women household chiefs. 1 out of 5 unemployed/underemployed started or improved a job. Parallel priority was to improve housing, infrastructure and social services for supporting productive activities and consequently betterment of living conditions. Results were that 1 of 5 inappropriate houses were improved, potable water supply and sewage systems are benefiting to whole families, primary education demand was totally satisfied as well as health care for women and children. Equally important was to reach a legal and well organized families association which is grouping by now 3 out of 5 families.

The above mentioned results have demonstrated that people involved directly in activities for the betterment of their lives, ensures the continuity and increases of the positive impact of activities initiated, in human and environmental terms. Those key activities become more and more dynamic widening progressively the participant and beneficiary families. That type of process is the basis of sustainability from the point of view of people's support. Nevertheless, financial support is also fundamental, depending on availability of funds and high rate of repayment ensured if people is directly engaged. Additionally, an appropriate institutional and legal framework at the national and local level promoting and supporting these initiatives is crucial for sustainability.

Following this experience, sustainability depends basically on:

  • Organized participation of involved population;
  • Activities directly related to improvement of people s quality of life;
  • Appropriate training and technical assistance transferring methodologies and technologies to involved population and authorities;
  • Institutional and legal framework support;
  • Financial system for appropriate loans.


    Santos Rizo/ACUP Rene Cisneros.
    Pista de la Resistencia.


    Nicaraguan Institute for Municipal Development (INIFOM), UNCHS/UNDP.
    Agustin Jarquin/INIFOM
    c/o PNUD, Apartado 3260
    (505-2) 666050


    Ruibal, Hugo, UNCHS/UNDP
    Av. Reynaldo Vivanco 294-201
    Surco, Lima 33
    Fax (51-1) 435 9147

    c/o PNUD Apartado 3260
    (505-2) 663613


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