We awoke to find a smoky haze distorting the sun rise and ash scattered all over the court yard; there had been a forest fire in Mozonte.
Forest fires are becoming increasingly prevalent in rural areas of Nicaragua. Many issues have lead to this increase in the incidence of forest fires and there are many ways in which forest fires can start, one example is the slash and burn method of land preparation for farming. Cutting down existing crops and then burning the waste material from this method is a cheap way to create fertile land quickly. This is a widespread process in Nicaragua and all over the developing world.
The problem started partially due to many farmers being unable to afford chemical fertilizer in order to prepare land. Farmers who use the slash and burn method of land preparation may not prepare land sufficiently beforehand, this can cause major problems. Fires can become out of control and spread rapidly on the dry, arid land.
Working in cooperation with our local partner organisation CPICH (Chorotega Coordinating Association of Indigenous People) we are launching a forest fire awareness campaign with the slogan:
‘Pequena incendios, grande problemas’. The literal translation of this is ‘small fires, big problems’.
The statement is blunt and straight to the point and we hope it will make people question their attitudes towards fires.
When constructing our campaign we decided to create a survey, we thought this would be a great way to find out what the population of Mozonte knew about forest fires and how to deal with the possibility of a forest fire in the town. From our survey we found that 91% of respondents thought forest fires were a serious threat and issue facing Mozonte.
However, less than half the people surveyed knew the correct phone number to call in the case of a forest fire; with many not knowing any method of contact for the forest fire fighting service.
As a group we think it is important to publicize the subject of forest fires and to draw attention to the effects that forest fires can have on the surrounding environment. We are going to be working with CPICH radio to create a series of adverts highlighting the causes and effects of forest fires as well as the action that should be taken in the case of seeing a forest fire. Another way in which we are going to spread our campaign message is through TV advertisement. We are creating an advert to be aired in Mozonte and Totogalpa. This is an exciting prospect, with the potential to spread the serious issue of forest fire to many people.
Blog by Laura Savage