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Environmental Heatlh in Nicaragua: Addressing Key Environmental Challenges

By: Karin Kemper

En Nicaragua, la alta dependencia de leña en el área rural para cocinar crea riesgos ambi­entales contra la salud.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Environmental health risks impose a significant burden on Nicaragua’s economy, amounting to 2.6 billion NIO or 2.4% of the country’s GDP.
  • These risks result in premature deaths and infections, especially in children under five.
  • More than a million annual cases of diarrhea in rural and urban areas in children under five result from poor water, sanitation and hygiene.

The Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region has a unique mix of qualities and challenges when it comes to the environment. It is exceptionally endowed with natural assets, with globally significant biodiversity and valuable crops, and also harbors the world’s greatest carbon sink in the Amazon.

At the same time, however, the region registers the highest rates of urbanization in the developing world with pollution, overuse of its water and natural resources and detrimental impacts on the health of people, especially the poor, and the environment.

Over the past twenty years, the LAC region has made impressive gains in tackling these issues. It leads the developing world in biodiversity conservation and natural resource management and is at the forefront in reducing urban pollution.

The World Bank has often been the partner of choice for those countries in the region that have had the initiative to pioneer innovative policies for environmental protection and natural resource management, strengthen institutions responsible for environmental management, enhance environmental sustainability, and introduce new approaches to water resources management.

Such initiatives include fuel and air quality standards in Peru, carbon emission reduction in Mexico, payment for ecosystem services in Costa Rica, participatory and integrated water resources management in Brazil, and new approaches to irrigation management in Mexico.

In this context, it is our pleasure to introduce the Environment & Water Resources Occasional Paper Series, a publication of the Environment and Water Resources Unit (LCSEN) of the Sustainable Development Department in the World Bank’s Latin America and the Caribbean Region.

The purpose of the series is to contribute to the global knowledge exchange on innovation in environmental and water resources management and the pursuit of greener and more inclusive growth. The papers seek to bring to a broader public – decision makers, development practitioners, academics and other partners - lessons learned from World Bank financed projects, technical assistance and other knowledge activities jointly undertaken with our partners. The series addresses issues relevant to the region’s environmental sustainability agenda from water resources management to environmental health, natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, environmental policy, pollution management, environmental institutions and governance, ecosystem services, environmental financing, irrigation and climate change and their linkages to development and growth.

Open Quotes

The purpose of the series is to contribute to the global knowledge exchange on innovation in environmental and water resources management and the pursuit of greener and more inclusive growth. Close Quotes

Karin Kemper
Sector Manager, Environment & Water Resources - Sustainable Development Department LAC

The results are striking in that these three risks alone amount to an estimated 2.4 percent of the country’s GDP, affecting primarily the poorer segments of the population. The study proceeds to look at priority investments and solutions, including by ranking potential interventions in terms of their costs and the expected benefits they will generate.

It is clear that solutions exist and that the returns to environmental improvements can be very high in terms of health improvements and better quality of life, particularly for children.

We hope that this paper, just as the entire series, will make a contribution to knowledge sharing within the LAC Region and globally.

Karin Kemper

Sector Manager, Environment & Water Resources

Sustainable Development Department

Latin America and the Caribbean Region

 

This study concentrates on three main environmental health risk factors: inadequate water supply and sanitation, indoor air pollution and urban air pollution.