Role of Alcohol Consumption in Nicaragua
As part of the LACS20 curriculum, my partner Aneeq Chaudhry and I researched the role of alcohol consumption in Nicaragua. Our presentation reconciles quantitative data taken from various sources on alcohol consumption, cultural insights from news sources and bloggers, as well as qualitative perspectives from an interview and a documentary. As outsiders looking in, Aneeq and I wanted to approach alcohol consumption carefully, and not assume that any cultural perceptions from the United States influences the information we find on Nicaragua. We decided we had to understand alcohol consumption in the context of Nicaraguan culture – what do they consider bad or unhealthy? What can we realistically find out or do?
Our research presented a number of interesting findings from various sources. First, the amount of alcohol consumption is generally negatively correlated with income. That is, the less earned wealth, the more alcohol is consumed. Second, alcohol consumption has been declining and is less per capita than the United States, but drinking behaviors are still unhealthy. Third, there is little government regulation and services for alcohol abuse and alcohol education. However, the evidence is inconclusive for our targeted demographic of residents of Hormiguero (a small, rural village in the northeast autonomous region of Nicaragua, the RAAN). While we still plan to help inform the residents of dangers of alcohol and encourage them to receive or refer those in need to rehabilitation programs, a large part of our project is now confirming or denying what we have since learned.
Below is the presentation of our compiled data. When Aneeq and I are on the trip, we hope to conduct surveys that will confirm or deny the data by inquiring about alcohol consumption and other possible influencing factors such as stress, economic position, demographics, and knowledge of health effects. We also hope to understand first-hand the Nicaraguan drinking culture by meeting and talking to residents of Hormiguero.
I have learned a lot about Nicaragua, both in regards to my final project and generally about the country. Every topic that has been explored and challenges that the people of Nicaragua face are extremely interconnected, as Professor Moody has stressed. For example, alcohol consumption is tied to economic challenges of the people. The agricultural economy is struggling for reasons such as climate change and a lack of sustainability, which could be improved by better farming practices and addressing deforestation. Government services and education are needed to assist the people, as well as allow upward mobility of the poor. So the benefits of general government services and improved education services would lessen the alcohol consumption of the people, especially of the poor. This is an example of the complexity of development which proves that solutions cannot be accomplished by sending money to poorer countries. I’ve learned to seek out this complexity instead of settling for a simple solution, which is a necessary part of ethical international practice.
A summary of alcohol consumption by the WHO: