According to the Police’s statistics, in 2011, the municipality of Bilwi presented the highest Demographic Criminal Index (DCI) of all Nicaragua. This situation has been increasing, and in the first semester of 2013, some youth groups’ violence became a notoriety and one of the major security problems for Bilwi’s inhabitants. In accordance with informations from the National Police’s Youth Issues Direction, 15 youth groups act in Bilwi, composed by 272 adolescents and teenagers, all males, aged from 13 to 22.
Drug trafficking and the organised crime presence in the region are some of the determinants of this phenomenon. It is encouraged by the area’s geographical position, the values crisis and the loss of leadership in the traditional communitarian structures, the familial disintegration produced by migration, unemployment, poverty, immigration, exclusion and the lack of opportunities for adolescents’ technical formation.
Facing this situation, we have to create opportunities for adolescents linked to youth groups who realize are involved in criminal activities, and also for adolescents that risk a social exclusion.
Vocational formation course in water and sanitation is a strategy had been built in association with the NGO Water Aid to provide opportunities to Bilwi’s poorest suburbs’ adolescents who have once been linked to youth, or who face the risk to join law-breaking groups if they do not find sustaining alternatives. This strategy designed and developed vocational formation courses in water and sanitation. Thirty-four adolescents insituation of exclusion (20 males and 14 females) participated. The formation included a practical theoretical module of building and plumbing, and other complementary modules: entrepreneurship and psychosocial skills basis. In addition to the training, the participants received a tool-kit to offer their service to the community.
During the course, all the adolescents were determined and well-behaved. Of the 34 graduates, 8 students (of which 3 were females) got the best results, showing better development in construction and plumbing technical abilities. This enabled Water Aid to contract them to work in water and sanitation systems construction in the rural communities where the NGO works.
During the evaluation, a group of girls reflected on the most important lessons of the training, and concluded that:
- Before starting the course, it was hard for them to make friends, but they learned to develop empathy with others.
- They improved their personality and their communication skills with their families.
- They recognize the importance of studying while before, they did not wanted to study nor doing anything.
- They are able to know their failures and their successes.
- They feel more secure in what they undertake, and they have learned to value what they possess.
- They have learned life goals and purposes.
The contributors to this course’s organisation and development were: the National Police’s Youth Issues Area, the Municipal Mayor of Bilwi and the National Institute of Technology. Those three institutional actors monitored the adolescents during the course, and at its end, they established accompaniment agreements with the fathers, mothers, tutors and the community leaders.
Wanda Obando, Water Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools Officer, UNICEF Nicaragua. ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Fátima Aguado, Program Assistant. UNICEF Nicaragua
( email@example.com )
WaterAid is an international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), without lucrative objectives, exclusively dedicated to provide secure water, sanitation and hygiene education to the most in-need populations worldwide. It was created in the United Kingdom in 1981 and counts now 4 international members: United Kingdom, United States of America, Australia and Sweden. It has established 26 country-programs in Africa and Asia, and one country-program in Latin America and the Caribbean: in Nicaragua.