Nicaragua: Experiences in climate change adaptation and vulnerability reduction in the water sector: The case of the Moyúa, Playitasand Tecomapa Wetlands (#417)

The area around Lake Moyua is experiencing severe soil degradation resulting from inappropriate agricultural practices. To reverse and control the degradation process, an IWRM Plan is implemented. By involving the communities, the aim is to restore the soil, the hydrological systems, forests and biodiversity, as well as the harmonisation of policies and implementation of management regulations. This case study consequently demonstrates the value of a bottom-up approach. 


The Lake Moyua in Nicaragua is characterized by vibrant natural resources of great scenic and natural value, but the area experiences soil degradation. The Lake is part of the watershed of “Sistema lacustre Playitas-Moyua-Tecomapa, located in the dry zone of northern Nicaragua. 

This area has recently been designated as a Wetland of International Importance (under the Ramsar Convention). The degradation that has occurred is a result of inappropriate agricultural and livestock practices that encourage destruction of forest areas by slash and burn and habitat destruction leading to disappearance of flora and fauna.

In addition, other activities such as hydrological regime modifications, uncontrolled bird hunting, water pollution both surface and groundwater due to agrochemicals as well as reduction of water flow in tributaries has further contributed to this degradation. Coupled with wide degradation, the lake area is also vulnerability to climate change which is especially experiencing droughts and this urgently calls proper adaptation measures.

Action taken

In order to reverse and control the degradation process causing the intermittent drought in the Lacustrine System, IWRM Plan is under implementation in the Playitas-Moyúa-Tecomapa wetland. Through the involvement of the communities the aim is to restore the soil, the hydrological systems, forests and biodiversity, as well as the harmonization of policies and implementation of management regulations.

All these actions aim to contribute to improved resilience of the watershed and improve the lives of the communities who are dependent on the watershed for their livelihoods. The initiative involved local communities and has been supported by local authorities, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Nicaragua, and the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua.

Lessons learned

  • This case study demonstrates a bottom-up approach where the governmental bodies have supported the efforts of an organized civil society especially to take actions to restore a degraded watershed to increase the ecosystem’s capacity for resilience and improve the lives of the people.
  • The implementations of the actions follow administrative cycles of their own nature with support of external organizations financing the projects. These have become building blocks which are embraced by the community with the spirit and need to use and protect the resources of the watershed as a means for their own social and economic development, based on the management plan and IWRM approach.

Photo credit: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Northeast Region