Latin America & the Caribbean
Nicaragua / Nicaragua Sugar Estates Limited-01/León and Chinandega
Nicaragua Sugar Estates Limited (NSEL) is the owner of an agro-energy complex located northwest of Managua, in the department of Chinandega. This IFC-financed project seeks to expand NSEL’s production and processing of sugarcane. In March 2008, the Center for International Environmental Law lodged a complaint with the CAO on behalf of 673 residents of communities in the departments of León and Chinandega and former NSEL employees. The complaint raised the following concerns:
1. Health impacts on local communities including Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) & respiratory problems as a result of sugarcane burning;
2. Labor and working conditions such as rights of association and restrictions to forming a union;
3. Inappropriate land acquisition in relation to indigenous communities;
4. Offsite environmental impacts including water contamination, air pollution and pesticide effluence;
5. IFC compliance with performance standards, policies and procedures.
ASOCHIVIDA and NSEL signed a framework agreement in November 2008 where they agreed to engage in a dialogue process convened by the CAO focused on three areas: an independent study to investigate the cause of CKD, improvements to care for those suffering from CKD in Chichigalpa, and ways to provide alternate means of livelihood for those affected by the disease. Efforts in these three areas are ongoing, and since February 2009 parties have met regularly to discuss actions and progress.
Independent Study to investigate the cause of CKD
A critical concern for the parties was to understand the cause of CKD through a credible and independent investigation. In a competitive process facilitated by the CAO, the dialogue participants together chose Boston University from a pool of nine highly qualified institutions to conduct an independent epidemiological scoping study. The Boston University team first conducted a Scoping Study in 2009 to summarize the available information on CKD in the region, identify data gaps, and recommend research activities to address those gaps. As follow up to the scoping study, the following six research activities have been completed or are in progress:
· An Industrial Hygiene/Occupational Health Assessment (August 2010), which evaluated the potential hazards associated with chemicals and work practices at ISA;
· An Investigation of Water Quality (August 2010), which included the analysis of a large number of contaminants in water samples collected from locations selected by ASOCHIVIDA;
· A Qualitative Analysis of Interviews with Physicians and Pharmacists (September 2011), which summarized data from semi-structured interviews with health professionals in Nicaragua to assess their perceptions regarding renal disease in the region;
· A Pilot Cohort Study (February 2012), which assessed the feasibility of conducting a complete retrospective cohort study to evaluate the relationship between work practices at ISA and CKD;
· An Investigation of Biomarkers in Workers (April 2012), which evaluated biological markers of kidney injury and CKD in ISA workers, miners, construction workers, and port workers;
· An Investigation of Urinary Biomarkers in Adolescents (June 2012), which evaluated evidence of subclinical kidney damage among adolescents in different areas of Nicaragua.
Improvements in care for those suffering from CKD
Medical needs are profound, particularly in light of the lack of options for medication, dialysis and transplant. At the dialogue table, ASOCHIVIDA and NSEL agreed to search for opportunities to improve the quality of local health care services, as the need to do so was identified in the Needs Assessment Report commissioned by the CAO and finalized in May 2011. As a first step, ultrasound equipment and the services of a radiologist were provided by NSEL. Recently, the Ministry of Health (MINSA) approved an offer by NSEL and the German Investment Corporation (DEG) to donate US$ 320,000 to improve facilities and services at the local Health Center in Chichigalpa. Conversations with MINSA to implement this project are ongoing.
Alternate means of livelihood and other donations for those affected by CKD
ASOCHIVIDA and NSEL have agreed to address the urgent need to support community members who are sick and unable to work or are survivors of workers who have passed away. Community support includes food aid, development of a microcredit program, improvement to housing and alternative income generation approaches for ASOCHIVIDA members.
Since June 2009, NSEL has committed to provide up to 2,000 members of ASOCHIVIDA with basic food provision, as well as yearly educational packages for over 1,545 children. In addition, a business development expert has been providing support to the parties since January 2010 to help identify income-generating activities, with program implementation beginning later in 2010.
ASOCHIVIDA and NSEL have continued to meet regularly with the assistance of CAO, and progress toward mutual goals is ongoing. Since the start, the dialogue process has made much progress toward improving conditions for ASOCHIVIDA members, as evidenced by NSEL’s support of numerous community development programs. Starting in 2009, NSEL, through direct investment or by leveraging aid though associated organizations, has spent over US$ 4 million on community aid and investment in research, with another US$ 1.8 million committed through 2013. The breakdown of expended or committed funds for the period 2009 though 2013 follows:
· Food supply: US$ 2,800,000
· Health care and improvements at the Chichigalpa clinic: US$ 1,228,000
· Financial contributions to the CKD research effort: US$ 800,000
· Improvements to housing: US$ 484,000
· Income generation projects: US$ 418,000
· Other donations and support: US$ 98,000
Prior to CAO involvement, NSEL also provided US$ 2 million as humanitarian aid to former workers affected with CKD. A detailed breakdown of aid provided by NSEL through the CAO process is available at the documents link below.
In addition to facilitating the dialogue table between ASOCHIVIDA and NSEL, the CAO has assisted community members from Goyena and Abangasca in addressing concerns with NSEL operations. The CAO intervention helped NSEL improve and publicize the company grievance mechanism, an important step in facilitating resolution of community concerns. This part of the complaint is now closed.
Boston University have released a report that summarizes research activities conducted for the dialogue table and presents suggestions for future research. Click on “View documents” below to read that summary, as well as other reports describing the methods, results, and conclusions for each of the studies conducted by Boston University, and all other documentation related to the dialogue table.
On June 28, 2012, ASOCHIVIDA and NSEL signed an Agreement that closes out CAO’s participation as a convener and mediator of the dialogue process on Chronic Kidney Disease. In the Agreement, the parties detail the commitments they have made as a result of the dialogue process held during the last 3 and a half years and state their willingness to continue in a direct dialogue to keep finding solutions to this problem. The Agreement also establishes the rules under which NSEL and ASOCHIVIDA will hold conversations from here on. During the next 8 months, CAO will enter a monitoring role to follow up on the complete implementation of the commitments made by the parties and will assist them in case they face difficulties in their direct dialogue. The full Agreement in Spanish and English is available below.
El 28 de junio de 2012, ASOCHIVIDA y NSEL firmaron un Acuerdo que cierra la participación de la CAO en su rol de convocante y mediadora del diálogo sobre la Enfermedad Renal Crónica. En el Acuerdo, las partes detallan todos los compromisos asumidos como resultado del proceso de diálogo que han mantenido durante los últimos 3 años y medio y expresan su voluntad de continuar en un diálogo directo para seguir encontrando soluciones a este problema. El Acuerdo establece también las reglas bajo las cuales NSEL y ASOCHIVIDA mantendrán conversaciones de aquí en más. De este modo, CAO da por cerrado el período de Facilitación de Acuerdos de su rol de Ombudsman y comienza la etapa de monitoreo. Durante los próximos 8 meses, CAO dará seguimiento a la implementación completa de los compromisos asumidos por las partes y está a su disposición para brindar ayuda en caso de que el diálogo directo que emprendan enfrente dificultades.
- Project Name & Number
- Nicaragua Sugar Estates Limited S.A. 25331
- Nicaragua Sugar Estates Limited
- Agriculture and Forestry
- Latin America & the Caribbean
- Environmental Category
- $25 million (A Loan) & $30 million (B Loan)
- Eligible: Completed
- Assessment Period: Completed
- Facilitating Settlement: Completed
- Monitoring/Close-out: In Process