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Cablegate: Embassy Managua's Diplomatic Outreach Plan Supporting The

VZCZCXRO0427
RR RUEHLMC RUEHRN
DE RUEHMU #0004/01 0042052
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 042051Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0348
INFO WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0007
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0006
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME 0001

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 MANAGUA 000004

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ECON PREL PGOV NU
SUBJECT: Embassy Managua's Diplomatic Outreach Plan Supporting the
GHFSI and the GON's Food Security Strategy

REF: A) STATE 124059; B) STATE 127466; C) STATE 12958
D) MANAGUA 1318

SUMMARY

---------------

1. (SBU) Per reftel A, Embassy Managua has developed a diplomatic
strategy to promote and support the Secretary's Global Hunger and
Food Security Initiative (GHFSI). Where possible, we will attempt
to complement the GON's food security strategy. Our plan focuses
on the following four areas: 1) engaging the GON and Nicaraguan
people on the benefits of market-led development to promote food
security and address poverty; 2) seeking areas of cooperation to
enhance the GON's fulfillment of its food security goals where
consistent with our own approach; 3) exploring a regional focus to
maximize USG food security assistance in Nicaragua; 4) improving
international donor coordination. Despite our differing policy
approaches with the GON regarding the best means to improve food
security, we believe there are areas of mutual interest to build
upon. End Summary.

POVERTY REDUCTION KEY TO IMPROVING FOOD SECURITY

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------
-----------

2. (U) The primary food security challenge in Nicaragua is
alleviating widespread, endemic poverty. Access to food supplies
and basic staples has steadily improved here since 1990, yet the
majority of Nicaraguans remain food-insecure because they simply
lack the purchasing power required to maintain an adequate,
nutritious diet. According to a 2008 World Bank report, 46 percent
of the Nicaraguan population, or almost 2.4 million people, live in
poverty. Fifteen percent of the population, or 766,000 people,
live in extreme poverty. Although Nicaragua's gross domestic
product (GDP) growth averaged 3.8 percent from 1995-2008, the World
Bank estimates that this rate of growth is insufficient to meet the
GON's long term development goal of reducing extreme poverty by 50
percent.

THE GON'S FOOD SECURITY STRATEGY

--------------------------------------------- -------

3. (U) In May 2009, the GON unveiled its new food security
strategy that clearly favors a state-led approach, to be
implemented at the community (neighborhood), municipal, and
departmental level. The GON strategy, entitled, "Food Security and
Nutritional Sovereignty Policy for the Agricultural and Rural
Sectors," promotes food availability, access, consumption, and
utilization for Nicaragua's poorest locales. The GON strategy
asserts that achieving food security and poverty reduction are
likely to be accomplished utilizing the following methods: an
emphasis on domestic food production; buying and selling food in
local markets; respecting local knowledge and practices related to
food production, storage, processing, and preparation; and ensuring
that food imports, both commercial and donations, do not negatively
impact domestic production.

4. (SBU) Unfortunately, the GON's desired mechanism to implement
its food security strategy is via its so-called Citizen Power
Councils (CPCs), formed in 2007, which are highly-politicized
entities controlled by the ruling Sandinista National Liberation
Front (FSLN) party that duplicates the GON's official structure at
all levels, and whose membership owes allegiance to President
Ortega and First Lady Rosario Murillo. The First Couple has used
the CPCs to impose their will and policies on the general
population (ref D). For instance, Ortega and Murillo have used the
CPCs to implement hunger and poverty reduction programs, such as
the "Hambre Cero" (Zero Hunger) program, for partisan reasons.
Based on this precedent, we have little confidence that the CPCs
will implement the new GON food security program in a non-partisan
manner. There is also concern among international donors, and
local political and civil society leaders, that the GON's food
security strategy will be used to help FSLN supporters to further
Ortega's goal of reelection in 2011.

5. (U) The GON food security strategy also fails to identify and
clearly distinguish the competencies and complementary roles of the
private and public sectors. The GON proposal blurs the line
between the two objectives of any comprehensive food security
strategy. The first objective should be to achieve sustainable
food security among individuals who possess the short/medium term
potential to overcome their condition of poverty, while the second
objective should be to provide immediate food safety nets for those
who are chronically (or temporarily) poor with minimal recovery
potential. In our view, the first objective should be led by the
private sector in Nicaragua, focused on the chain of production and
marketing, job creation, and income generation. The second
objective should be state-led because of its social protection
mandate. GON agreement on these separate, but complementary, roles
would assist Embassy Managua and other players to channel and
coordinate their support to the GON more effectively.

EMBASSY MANAGUA'S DIPLOMATIC OUTREACH PLAN

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------
-----

6. (U) Nonetheless, the United States has national security and
humanitarian interests in Nicaragua related to food security.
Persistently high levels of poverty, hunger, and food insecurity
engender instability, and negatively impact building upon our
current activities, and long term economic development. Given our
limited resources, we propose the following outreach plan to
promote the GHFSI, complementing the GON's efforts to improve food
security in Nicaragua: a) engage the GON and Nicaraguan public on
the benefits of market-led development to promote food security and
reduce poverty; b) explore areas of cooperation to support the
GON's emergency food security safety net programs; c) implement a
regional focus within Nicaragua to maximize USG food security
assistance; d) improve international donor coordination.

PROMOTING A NATIONAL DIALOGUE ON MARKET-LED DEVELOPMENT

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------
---------------------------

7. (SBU) Market-based development remains the best method to
reduce poverty and improve food security here. Nicaragua has
achieved impressive private sector-led economic growth, job
creation, and income generation through the Central
American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR),
USAID's Economic Growth and Agriculture activities, the Millennium
Challenge Corporation's (MCC) Compact, and the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's (USDA) technical assistance and Food for Progress
PL-480 programs. [Note: PL-480 obligations are slated to end in
Nicaragua in 2010. As a result, GHFSI funds could fill a critical
void. End Note.] To promote the benefits of market-based
development, members of Embassy Managua's Country Team will engage
with senior and mid-level GON officials to underscore the
importance of the GON's critical role in supporting conditions to
further stimulate and reinforce market-based development. We will
emphasize the importance of investing in key communication and
infrastructure projects, market feeder roads and bridges, energy
sources for targeted rural areas to include mini-hydroelectric
plants and the harnessing of solar energy and wind power, and small
irrigation technologies and systems.

8. (SBU) We will also place strategic op-eds and related articles
in both major daily newspapers on the benefits of market-led
development, highlighting the critical roles of the private and
public sectors in improving food security. Another available tool
is the use of targeted IIP speakers. Embassy Managua's Public
Affairs Section hopes to execute a full speaker program on food
security in 2010, which would include visits to several key cities
in Nicaragua. Our goal is to reinforce the message on market-led
development via positive coverage in the local media.

EXPLORING AREAS OF COOPERATION

--------------------------------------------- -----

9. (SBU) Post will explore ways to cooperate with the GON that
could complement its more reasonable food security goals. While we
do not support the GON's state-led and politicized strategy to
improve food security, we will discuss with GON counterparts how
USG assistance programs could help create conditions to promote
sustainable food security. In these discussions we will stress
partnering with the private sector, and strengthening social safety
net programs for the extremely poor, identifying problem areas that
require more support such as nutritional health and education
programs for mothers and children.

A REGIONAL FOCUS FOR USG ASSISTANCE

--------------------------------------------- -----------

10. (SBU) Given scarce resources to promote food security, we will
review our assistance programs to determine whether a regional
focus within Nicaragua would yield maximum benefits. USAID is
currently conducting a series of background assessments, including
a reevaluation and validation of where to focus investments in
food security in north-central Nicaragua, for example. This region
is home to the largest number of poor and extremely poor families,
and is perennially vulnerable to natural disasters such as
earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and droughts. MCC's highly
successful Compact, which contains food security elements, already
maintains a regional focus in western Nicaragua, particularly in
the departments of Leon and Chinandega. [Regrettably, Nicaragua's
poor performance on governance and corruption, most egregiously
demonstrated in the massive fraud in the administration of the
November 2008 municipal elections, has led to a partial termination
of MCC assistance.]

IMPROVING DONOR COORDINATION

--------------------------------------------- -----

11. (SBU) Improved donor coordination to address food security
issues in Nicaragua is another key element in promoting the GHFSI
here. Post will adopt a leading role in coordinating an enhanced
dialogue with our bilateral and multilateral partners through
workshops and related activities. According to the World Bank,
over 40 bilateral and multilateral donors are active in Nicaragua
disbursing nearly $550 million annually in foreign assistance. The
World Bank further estimates that 25-30 percent of this assistance
is allocated for food security-related programs. Hundreds of NGOs
active in Nicaragua maintain food security-related projects.
Facilitating more information sharing will provide donors a more
complete picture of what sorts of projects are being implemented
throughout Nicaragua, and whether they are effective.

12. (SBU) Given the large role of UN agencies here, we would
encourage our colleagues at USUN New York, USUN Rome and US Mission
Geneva to take advantage of U.S. influence to consult respectively
with the WFP, UNESCO, UNPD and other UN entities. Our goal should
be to persuade the UN's Managua offices to more closely collaborate
with other donors here such as the European Commission, EU Member
States and other important donor countries such as Japan.
SANDERS

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