Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

James Levinson


This Capstone is a study of the population living and working within La Chureca, the city dump in Managua, Nicaragua. No previous qualitative assessment has been done of this population. Accordingly, many organizations working with it are functioning under the premise that the population uniformly suffers from severe hunger, disease and depression. The primary purpose of this study is to examine these assumptions and replace inaccurate stereotypes with a factual understanding of this population’s history and present situation as well as their goals and aspirations for the future. The study also seeks to analyze the strategy of one specific project seeking to affect significantly the wellbeing of this population. Using the tool of Appreciative Inquiry, the study collected information from a sample of 20 individuals who presently or previously lived in La Chureca, half of whom are current participants in the aforementioned project. Based on this collected information, it has been possible to better understand the evolution of the community, its current environment and social structure, and motivating factors associated with migration to and settlement in La Chureca. The study's primary findings are the following:

a. Consistent with general assumptions, the target population considers the environment of La Chureca to be unhealthy and dangerous.

b. In contrast with general assumptions, however, the target population does not have wholly negative impressions of its primary occupation of scavenging.

c. Also contrasting with general assumptions, the target population is satisfied with and dependent on its social networks and life style within La Chureca.

e. And finally, this population views financial stability as its highest priority, well above home or land ownership


Civic and Community Engagement | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies


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