By Alberto D. Perez
Photos by Carlos Roberto Fonseca
UNDPs 2005 Human Development Report for Nicaraguas Caribbean Coastal Regions, just launched in the area, was described as a powerful tool for the multisided advance of that rich, sparsely-inhabited by indigenous and Afro-Caribbean peoples, largely underdeveloped area, whose residents perceive as forgotten by the Central Government.
The 364-page report was presented on 30 June at the Northern Autonomous Regional Government (RAAN) House in Bilwi, the territorys capital city, while the presentation in the Southern Autonomous Region (RAAS), took place on 1 July at the Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University (BICU) campus.
Present at both launchings were the Presidents of the Regional Councils and other top regional authorities and the Government delegate for the area, Mr. Carlos Hurtado; the Rectors and professors of the University for the Caribbean Areas of Nicaragua (URACCAN) and BICU, as well as leaders of religious and community institutions. Representatives from the Embassy of Finland, the United Kingdoms Department for International Development (DFID), the Swedish Embassy and the Organization of American States attended both ceremonies. Also present were Representatives of UN Agencies and International NGOs. Local and national radio, TV and daily newspaper reporters widely covered the presentations.
Speaking in Bilwi and Bluefields, United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative in Nicaragua Mr. Jorge Chediek recalled UNDPs intention to use the Human Development Reports as contributions to global, regional and national debates on major issues of development.
Human Development --he said-- needs support from a dynamic, inclusive economy. This report shows --Mr. Chediek noted that both Nicaraguan Autonomous regions have capacities and resources that, once activated, could contribute to take advantage of global possibilities and pave the way for the economic and social progress of that area, which covers almost half of the Nicaraguan territory, while making an important contribution to the nation as a whole.
However, he said, both Caribbean autonomous regions of Nicaragua need to overcome serious social and economic deficiencies in virtually all fields of the human endeavor. The Report notes that the nations poorest municipalities lie precisely in the Caribbean autonomies.
Mr. Chediek thanked the support from Government, university and religious leaders in the area to the Human Development Report project. In all, he said, some 2,000 people took part in the project. He also praised international backing for past and on-going projects and other initiatives in the region and voiced the hope that they would continue.
The Human Development Report for the Autonomous Regions in the Caribbean should be a starting point for the promotion of progress in the area and in the country so urgently needed by the whole Nicaraguan nation, the UNDP Resident Representative concluded.
Other speakers included the Rectors of both Universities: Ms. Alta Hooker (URACCAN) and Mr. Faran Dometz (BICU), Regional Government Coordinator Mr. Hurtado Garcia (RAAN) and Mr. Rayfield Hodgson of the RAAS Regional Council. Religious invocations were conducted by Reverend Steadmant Bent and Monsignor Pablo Schmitz, respectively.
All of them thanked UNDP for the publication of the regional HDR and voiced the hope that it will spark a concerted regional and national effort to redress the many ills now afflicting both autonomous regions and the country as a whole.
UNDP and the University for the Autonomous Regions of Nicaraguas Caribbean Coast (URACCAN) signed an agreement at the learning centers campus in Bluefields calling for joint work towards the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); promote gender equality, the formation of human resources and the improvement of bilingual education, with the support of Finland.
Another project for the development of the RAAN with support from the United Kingdoms DFID and the European Union as donor institutions was signed in Bilwi by UNDP with the Northern regional authorities. It calls for MDG fulfillment and the integration of antipoverty and environmental protection measures into the regional and national development plans.
In his capacity as UN Resident Coordinator in Nicaragua, Mr. Chediek also presided over the opening of the UN House in Bilwi, to serve as center for the activities of UN institutions working in the Northern Autonomous Region. A UNDP House already operates in Bluefields, providing support to the Southern Autonomous Region.
The inaugural tape was cut by World Food Programme Representative Ms. Krystyna Bednarska and UNICEF Representative Ms. Debora Comini, while Mr. Chediek delivered the central speech.
The Resident Coordinator signed an agreement with the Northern Regional Council and the Government of the Autonomous region, providing support of the institutions of the UN System in Nicaragua for activities included in the Millennium Declaration, the strengthening of democratic processes and institutions and of human development, as well as to the consolidation of the economic and social integration of the indigenous Afrodescendants and ethnic communities, with due respect for their cultural and ethnical particularities.
Mr. Juan Gonzalez, Chairman of the Areas Regional Council, and Mr. Hurtado Garcia, Coordinator of the Autonomous Regional Government, also signed the agreement.