Nicaraguan Sugar Cane Workers

Across Central America, an epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) – a disease for which progression is inevitable, and ultimately fatal, without early access to dialysis or kidney transplant – is decimating communities.

Since 2008, CIEL has supported La Asociación Chichigalpa por la Vida (ASOCHIVIDA), an association of over 2,200 ex-sugarcane workers who have all be diagnosed with CKD in Nicaragua. CIEL assisted ASOCHIVIDA in filing a complaint to the accountability mechanism of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) regarding its load to Nicaragua Sugar Estates Limited.

Through a mediation convened by the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) of the IFC, ASOCHIVIDA has secured monthly distribution of basic food provisions for the members; income generation projects that have benefited more than 500 members directly and provided revenue for the organization that is, in turn, used to help members cover their medical and funeral expenses; a new peritoneal dialysis program with seven participants; 60 new houses and 40 on the way that provide the conditions necessary for the people who are sick to receive dialysis; and ground-breaking research on the disease by Boston University School of Public Health.  Together, these benefits are worth close to $6 million, and there is more yet to come.

Also through the mediation, ASOCHIVIDA secured a commitment of $320,000 to build a renal clinic to provide dialysis and improved care next to the new general hospital in Chichigalpa. The Government of Nicaragua delayed for more than two years, during which time CIEL delivered thousands of signatures to the Government of Nicaragua urging it to build the clinic.

In October 2014, the government finally approved modified plans for the clinic, which involves remodeling an existing clinic into a new one so that former-sugarcane workers suffering from the chronic kidney disease can get the treatment they need.

Although the CAO has officially ended its involvement in the mediation, the story is not over.  There is a tremendous amount of work to do.  ASOCHIVIDA continues to meet with the company to find new ways to help those with the disease, most of whom are men in their twenties or thirties.  During the last three years, Boston University has made significant progress in understanding the disease, but further research is needed before we know what is causing the epidemic.

In these videos, hear what ASOCHIVIDA has been able to achieve, in their own words.