Nicaragua’s democratic institutions have eroded substantially over the past decade, to the degree that many Nicaraguan youth do not see viable options for making change in their communities or country through politics. Through grassroots organizing, a group of Nicaraguan youth have found ways to exercise their right to hold elected officials accountable and to secure action to bring about improvements in their communities.
The Civic Youth Movement (MCJ; Movimiento Cívico de Juventudes) has been part of an NDI effort that began in 2015 to expand youth leadership and political engagement by providing hands-on training in community organizing techniques. Several of the group members are graduates of the Certificate in Leadership and Political Management (CLPM) program NDI has supported in partnership with Nicaraguan universities and civil society organizations, together with George Washington University. In one of Managua’s sprawling poor neighborhoods, these youth organizers are utilizing the community organizing training that NDI has provided to carry out campaigns to improve their community.
Using proven community organizing methodologies, the group put together a team to carry out a total of 174 door-to-door interviews. Through this process, they realized the main concern in the community was increasing crime and insecurity. This problem, they felt, was exacerbated by the lack of public lighting in a major local park and surrounding streets.
The young organizers created a neighborhood committee to tackle the issue. The committee designed and implemented a campaign called “For a Safe Community" ("Por una Comunidad Segura”). The campaign included a signature drive and direct lobbying of the city council, aimed at garnering community support and getting municipal authorities to take action.