Staying Safe in Nicaragua
Nicaragua Global Health and Community Development Field Experience
In response to general safety concerns, I provide Program Guidelines that establish behavioral and personal safety standards that students must obey at all times. The guidelines encourage students to avoid unsafe situations, and plainly prohibit drunkenness and illegal drug use.
Students are given an introductory orientation tour of all the communities we visit upon arrival to become familiar with their surroundings and the location of critical services.
Some of the safety issues students may encounter in Nicaragua (Las Salinas, Managua, and Granada)
1. General petty theft, pick-pocketing- the most common safety issue requiring awareness and precautions.
2. Assault, violence (especially against women) – a serious but not common risk requiring precautions on the part of the leader and student. No reported risks in Las Salinas.
3. Sport injuries- sprains, strains while playing and teaching sports-low probability and low to medium risk impact. Precautions taken to avoid injuries and first aid applied for any injuries.
4. Minor cuts and scrapes when working on gardens, digging fence holes, etc.-Low to medium probability, as no power tools are used, any risk would be lower impact.
5. Food and water borne infections- most common illness risk with low to moderate impact.
6. Risk of communicable diseases- not common but serious health risk if contracted.
7. Dehydration, health exhaustion and/or sun burn- a serious but not common risk when proper precautions are taken.
8. Insect bites and/or stings-scorpions stings are painful but not dangerous.
I will provide Program Guidelines that establish behavioral and safety standards that students must obey at all times. The Guidelines will encourage students to avoid unsafe situations and plainly prohibits drunkenness and illegal drug use. The safety issues listed above are addressed as follows:
Personal and Property Safety
• Safety issues are discussed in several meetings prior to departure, including the IPO Outgoing Orientation.
• Students will be repeatedly encouraged to be vigilant with their personal belongings, especially in crowded situations such as busy city streets, markets, buses, etc.
• Students will lock up all valuables, passports, money, computers, etc. in locked room and safes as available.
• Students are advised to not carry large amounts of cash and to be discrete with their valuables.
• Students will be given an introductory orientation tour of Las Salinas upon arrival to familiarize themselves with their surroundings, and to ensure they can seek assistance if needed.
• Students, particularly females, are advised never to walk alone at night and are advised to walk in groups of two at all times. Females are advised to dress modestly when in community and tourist settings.
• Students are strongly encouraged to avoid activities that might mark them as vulnerable (e.g.drinking too much) and to generally avoid social situations involving a preponderance of American college students, especially if there is alcohol involved.
• No public transportation will be used at night; all privately charted buses will take students and faculty directly to safe and secure accommodations.
• Students will remain in a group for all in-country activities. Students will notify the program leader of their plans and estimated return time during the any free time.
• Students are directed to the US State Department website detailing safety hazards in Nicaragua.
• Students will have contact information for the United States Embassy in Managua and vital contact information in the US (including the UI International Programs Office).
• Students are advised to record and keep credit card numbers and a copy of their passport in a safe place. Most lodging locations will provide access to secure/locked storage.
Basic Health, Food and Water Safety
• Students will complete all needed immunizations and other treatments prior to embarking on the trip.
• Students will bring water bottles, hats and sunglasses and proper protective clothing and will take frequent rest breaks with filtered drinking water available as needed.
• All food served will be prepared in safe and hygienic facilities and kept at proper storage temperatures.
• Students will be oriented to local food safety issues and will be strongly cautioned to only drink bottled or filtered drinking water (provided at all lodging and dining locations).
• Food safety will be reviewed pre-trip and in-country (the program leader is a Registered Dietitian and well educated in food safety prevention).
• Trip leaders and coordinators will be knowledgeable of modifications that must be made for any food allergies or sensitivities reported by students.
• Students will boat or swim at the beach or pool in groups of at least two at all times. Non-swimmers are advised not to go into deep water or boat in deep water. Ocean swimming alone is not permitted.
Health and Emergency Care
• Students are made aware of the nearest health clinic and hospital. The In-Country Coordinator and Aprender Directors would take any students needing assistance to the private clinic Roberto Clemente Clinic http://www.nicaclinic.org/. The cost is
US$ 25 is the cost of the single visit for foreigners – (15 minutes by car).
• For problems requiring hospitalization- PELLAS HOSPITAL in Managua: http://www.metropolitano.com.ni/
• Students are advised to have access to money in case of emergency transportation (APRENDER does not pay for transportation or costs of medicines or doctors in medical emergencies.
• Cell phones are widely used- students will have cell phone numbers for the Program Director, In-Country Coordinator, CEPAD and Aprender Directors- students will always be with someone in-country that will carry a cell phone at all times in the event of an emergency.
• Students are required to provide emergency contact information and detailed travel itineraries to the program director prior to the start of the program.
• Students will be given instruction for gathering locations in the event of a natural disaster or other calamity at both CEPAD and APRENDER.
Insect Stings and Bites
• Students are advised to bring DEET based mosquito repellent and to cover skin with long pants and shirts during the evening hours. Nets are provided at Equilibrio in all sleeping quarters. You may be advised to bring a sleeping net for our time at CEPAD.
• Students are advised to follow their physician’s recommendations for prophylactic malaria treatment
• To avoid insect bites, students are strongly advices not to put unprotected hands into piles of wood or rocks or nooks where spiders and scorpions hide and to shake out shoes before putting them on.
• Students are strongly advised to recognize scorpion sting symptoms of pain, burning, sensitivity to touch and a numbness or tingling sensation and to notify trip leaders immediately.
• Students are encouraged to bring Benadryl or another anti-histamine along (or an alternative if allergic to Benadryl) and to put ice on the bite and to relax (instructions provided by Equilibrio).
Being in Nicaragua will be a great experience for all of us, but there are basic guidelines that must be followed. It is essential that University of Idaho students maintain their safety and also the reputation of the University, Idaho and the United States.
1. Respect yourself and others – other students, other travelers, and most of all the residents of Las Salinas and other locations we will visit in Nicaragua.
2. Respect where you live and work – keep your living quarters and shared community space clean and well-organized at all times.
3. Respect your instructors and in-country presenters – pay them the courtesy of your undivided attention.
4. Be safe – don’t put yourself or others into potentially problematic situations.