Regional Planning and Affordable Housing Development in Nicaragua


Please visit the website for our friends at UrbaMonde.  This story is re-posted from their site. 

The Matagalpa land management project aims to build a regional management body for the Rio Grande watershed in Nicaragua. The Matagalpa region is located in central Nicaragua. It has a rugged topography and has a network of communication channels very deficient. Its economy is based on coffee growing, cattle breeding and food products (rice, beans, market gardening). Since 1998 (Hurricane Mitch), there has been a resurgence of extreme weather events (droughts followed by heavy rains) causing floods (urbanized areas) and landslides thus increasing the generalized state of vulnerability of the territory.

The economic situation is worsening for a majority of the population, causing an increase in migratory movements to the outside (Costa Rica), to the capital (free zones) and to the interior of the country (advancing the agricultural frontier causing a significant deforestation). The return of the Sandinista Front to the government in 2006 led to improvements in the health and education system, as well as the approval of laws favorable to better territorial management, and a strengthening of the small and medium-sized producers sector. The constitution in 2007 of the association of communes AMUPNOR which groups together the municipalities of the watershed, is an encouraging sign which shows a will to organize, beyond the political divisions,

In the absence of regional structures, municipalities are legally responsible for the management of the territory. The creation of a shared technical office is a first step in developing the capacities of local actors (municipalities, producer associations, community organizations), as well as for the coordination of actions to be undertaken. The initial approach to disaster prevention is evolving towards a territorial approach to climate change in its various dimensions.


Nicaragua, upper part of Rio Grande de Matagalpa watershed, comprising 15 municipalities. Population estimated at 600’000 people, surface 12.000 km2 representing 20% ​​of the national territory and covering the 3 main ecological zones of the country (Dry Pacific, Central Mountains and Wet Atlantic)

Period of realization:

The project was born in 2001 following Hurricane Mitch and continues to develop through a project to mitigate the effects of climate change through agroforestry.

Diagnostic :

A triple statement is shared between the local and international actors of the project, namely:

  • Major shortcomings in geographical information make territorial planning and especially urban planning very uncertain,
  • The weakness of local capacities in the municipalities makes it very difficult not only to formulate projects and policies, but also to put into practice the control measures for the correct allocation of the soil.
  • The lack of continuity of public policies, subject to the vagaries of electoral deadlines, makes very fragile medium- and long-term planning efforts, particularly those relating to disaster prevention and land-use planning.


The first phase (2002 – 2005) was devoted to the realization of the first master plan of the city of Matagalpa, approved by a resolution of the municipal council in the time of the mandate of the mayor applicant.

The second phase (in progress) was set up at the request of the Association of Municipalities (AMUPNOR, Asociacion de Municipios Productivos del Norte). It consists of:

  • Participatory development of municipal master plans (urban and rural territory) with each municipality, (land use regulation)
  • The construction of a regional geographic information system, accessible to all stakeholders in the region
  • The formulation of inter-municipal strategic projects, in an agro-ecological transition perspective.

Responsible organizations:

  • AMUPNOR, responsible for the execution of the project by its regional planning department.
  • urbaMonde, a non-governmental organization committed to sustainable territorial development in emerging countries.
  • CLIMSAT, the operational service of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) under its Center for Innovative Partnerships specializes in local development projects, particularly in vulnerable areas subject to the vagaries of climate change. As this structure no longer exists, this support has been taken over by TASK as a partner for expertise on climate change.
  • Canton of Geneva, Department of International Solidarity and Directorate General of Spatial Planning.
  • City of Geneva, Delegation for Cooperation of the City of Geneva of the Department of Social Cohesion, Youth and Sports and Urban Planning Department of the Department of Construction and Development.

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