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World Lake Basin Management Initiative

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Nicaragua: Lake Cocibolca Integrated Water Management and Biodiversity Conservation

Nicaragua is the poorest country on the mainland of the Americas and is still only slowly emerging from the Sandanista-Contra civil war of the 1980s and the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in November 1998. Uncoordinated services and investments have severely limited the effectiveness of national government expenditures and foreign aid. Deforestation and deterioration of watersheds has degraded Nicaragua’s two great lakes, Xolotan (Lake Managua) and Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua) and the San Juan River, which drains the lakes into the Caribbean.

The leading water resources organization in Nicaragua is the Research Center for Inland Waters of Nicaragua (CIRA), at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua (UNAN). CIRA/UNAN became an active LakeNet member in 2000.

In June 2003, LakeNet awarded a mini-grant to CIRA/UNAN with funding from USAID to conduct a meeting on 4-5 June 2003 in Granada, Nicaragua, on the use and conservation of the Lake Cocibolca watershed. The meeting was organized in cooperation with the Association of Municipalities on the Watershed of the Great Lake of Nicaragua (AMUGRAN), which is an association of 39 municipalities, lead by the City of Granada. The objectives of the meeting were to:

· Develop an action plan to protect the health of Lake Cocibolca, including a process for developing a participatory watershed-wide transboundary management plan;

· Formalize AMUGRAN as the coordinator of the many protection efforts and initiatives to protect and restore Lake Cocibolca’s biodiversity;

· Use integrated water resources management and the World Lake Vision principles and approaches in the development of a Lake Cocibolca management plan;

· Further develop a sustainable development project portfolio, as a basis for fundraising; and

· Reach consensus on the establishment of Lake Cocibolca and its watershed as a binational protected area.

The meeting was attended by the mayors of 17 cities and towns surrounding Lake Cocibolca; by the mayors of four towns in the Costa Rican portion of the lake’s watershed; by eleven senior officials of the Nicaraguan national government, including President Enrique Bolanos and the Ministers of Environment, of Agriculture and Forestry, and of Health; by the Chairmen of two committees of the National Assembly; and by more than 50 representatives of civil society organizations.

The focal point of the meeting was a draft “Law to Create a Sustainable Development Corridor for the Municipalities in the Watershed of Lakes Xolotlan, Cocibolca, and the San Juan River.”

During the course of the two-day meeting, the President of Nicaragua, three cabinet ministers, and two committee chairmen of the National Assembly all expressed support for enactment of the law. The law establishes a 12-member Sustainable Development Council to develop and manage a plan of action for the watershed. As of late June 2003, the two committees of the National Assembly had scheduled hearings on the bill.



I want to provide feedback on a posted draft document.

Cocibolca/Nicaragua  (PDF) Experience Brief. Final. 2/27/2006.


Participating Lakes

Cocibolca (Nicaragua)


Participating Organizations

The following organizations are participating in this program:

Association of Municipalities in the Watershed of the Great Lake Nicaragua (AMUGRAN)
LakeNet Secretariat
Research Center for Inland Waters of Nicaragua, University Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua (CIRA/UNAN)
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)


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