Participants of the InteRDom program visited Lake Enriquillo and surrounding communities as part of their cultural excursion component of the program on July 4, 2014. The guided day-long activity followed a short film screening the night before, introducing participants to the geographical, social and economic realities that the effects of climate change have on the communities surrounding the lake.
Lake Enriquillo is one of the few salt water lakes in the world inhabited by crocodiles. This lake is located in a rift vally formed by the Enriquillo-Plaintain Garden Fault that extends 79 miles from Port-au-Prince Bay in Haiti in the west to Neiba Bay in the Dominican Republic in the East. The lake is named after Enriquillo, a Taino cacique who rebelled against the Spaniards in the early 16th century and hid in the mountains north of the lake.
Recurrent heavy rainfalls in the last few years as well as other unknown variables have caused an unprecedented growth of Lake Enriquillo, resulting in a widespread flooding and extensive damage to agricultural and pasture lands in the provinces of Independencia and Bahoruco, and evicting entire communities from their land.
On the evening of July 3rd, InteRDom screened the short film, “The Growth of Lake Enriquillo: Environmental, Social and Scientific Implications,” a product of InteRDom’s host organization, Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD). This film presented the participants with information about the lake and the research that is being done to determine if the flooding is related to climate change, which according to local experts is the first effect of climate change known on the island. The screening helped educate participants about the area before the next day’s excursion, giving some context to the present phenomenon.
InteRDom brought participants to the Neiba, Lake Enriquillo, La Descubierta and Boca de Cachon communities as part of the tour, where they visited the information station of the lake, observed the birds and crocodiles in a tranquil boat ride around the lake with an expert and ecologist, and explored a natural spring called Las Barias in the community of La Descubierta. Afterwards they enjoyed a typical Dominican lunch of rice, chicken and beans and visited an overlook called “Las Caritas,” which showed scenic views of the lake and features Taino pictography. The intention of this excursion is for participants to appreciate the beautiful landscape while at the same time visiting these communities affected by the flooding and understanding how they are adapting to the changing environment.
InteRDom, an initiative of Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE), is the premier internship, research and academic study program in the Dominican Republic. It offers international students the opportunity to research important topics at the forefront of the United Nations agenda, obtain professional experience by interning with Dominican organizations and businesses related to their fields of study and/or earn academic credits by taking courses and seminars at a local university.