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Exploring mechanisms for a social-ecological transformation in León, Nicaragua

Deutsch, Lisa (2018):
Exploring mechanisms for a social-ecological transformation in León, Nicaragua.
In: Brilliant minds for social-ecological transformations (Poster presentation at PhD summer school, ISOE), Bad Homburg, 29.07-03.08.2018, [Conference or Workshop Item]

Abstract

It is well established that spending time in nature and close to water bodies has positive impacts on human well-being. Nicaragua’s second largest city León is fortunate to even possess two rivers—río chiquito and río pochote—that have the potential to become major recreational areas for Leonese inhabitants. However, the current state of these water bodies is characterized by high levels of contamination due to the disposal of domestic waste and waste water as well as industrial effluents stemming from the nearby tanneries and slaughterhouses. Research shows that river contamination in León has exclusively been approached from a natural scientist perspective so far. The aim of the study is to gain a holistic picture of the problem and identify mechanisms of change for a social-ecological transformation. This requires exploring mechanisms of the biophysical and material (e.g. green infrastructure), but also of the symbolic-discursive dimension (e.g. hegemonic discourse, power asymmetries) since the problem is perceived, experienced and framed differently by different actors, each of them having certain interests and power in Leonese society. By conducting semi-structured interviews with local stakeholders and using field notes from informal conversations with inhabitants, the prevailing problem-perception dominating the public discourse could be identified. Informal conversations further revealed beliefs guiding the inhabitant’s daily practices. An actor’s motivation and intention as well as ‘false’ beliefs can also be a causal mechanism for change as they have the potential to inhibit or incentivize the development of adequate solutions. Finally, beliefs and practices must also be seen in relation to infrastructure gaps and inefficient waste collection in León that obliges the local population to develop their own strategies to deal with waste disposal – very often putting their own health at risk. In addition, the frequent replacement of skilled personnel in institutions on the local level due to political factors and the strongly hierarchized decision-making process result in a constant loss of expert knowledge and delay decision-making.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item
Erschienen: 2018
Creators: Deutsch, Lisa
Title: Exploring mechanisms for a social-ecological transformation in León, Nicaragua
Language: English
Abstract:

It is well established that spending time in nature and close to water bodies has positive impacts on human well-being. Nicaragua’s second largest city León is fortunate to even possess two rivers—río chiquito and río pochote—that have the potential to become major recreational areas for Leonese inhabitants. However, the current state of these water bodies is characterized by high levels of contamination due to the disposal of domestic waste and waste water as well as industrial effluents stemming from the nearby tanneries and slaughterhouses. Research shows that river contamination in León has exclusively been approached from a natural scientist perspective so far. The aim of the study is to gain a holistic picture of the problem and identify mechanisms of change for a social-ecological transformation. This requires exploring mechanisms of the biophysical and material (e.g. green infrastructure), but also of the symbolic-discursive dimension (e.g. hegemonic discourse, power asymmetries) since the problem is perceived, experienced and framed differently by different actors, each of them having certain interests and power in Leonese society. By conducting semi-structured interviews with local stakeholders and using field notes from informal conversations with inhabitants, the prevailing problem-perception dominating the public discourse could be identified. Informal conversations further revealed beliefs guiding the inhabitant’s daily practices. An actor’s motivation and intention as well as ‘false’ beliefs can also be a causal mechanism for change as they have the potential to inhibit or incentivize the development of adequate solutions. Finally, beliefs and practices must also be seen in relation to infrastructure gaps and inefficient waste collection in León that obliges the local population to develop their own strategies to deal with waste disposal – very often putting their own health at risk. In addition, the frequent replacement of skilled personnel in institutions on the local level due to political factors and the strongly hierarchized decision-making process result in a constant loss of expert knowledge and delay decision-making.

Uncontrolled Keywords: Social-ecological transformation, Nicaragua, urban water, river contamination, interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity
Divisions: 11 Department of Materials and Earth Sciences
11 Department of Materials and Earth Sciences > Earth Science
11 Department of Materials and Earth Sciences > Earth Science > Ecological Engineering
Event Title: Brilliant minds for social-ecological transformations (Poster presentation at PhD summer school, ISOE)
Event Location: Bad Homburg
Event Dates: 29.07-03.08.2018
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2018 10:20
Alternative keywords:
Alternative keywordsLanguage
Sozial-ökologische TransformationGerman
InterdisziplinaritätGerman
TransdisziplinaritätGerman
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