Groundbreaking workplace research projects
A team of academic and government research institutions convened by La Isla Foundation and Solidaridad is gathering and interpreting scientific data on CKDu at the El Angel sugar mill in El Salvador:
Water. Rest. Shade. (WRS) – WRS is a protocol developed by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to protect agricultural workers against the risks of heat stress. The WE Program applies WRS data to the working conditions of industries affected by CKDu, beginning with sugarcane in Central America, in order to generate recommendations for a healthy and safe working environment.
CamelBak – WE can give workers better access to water. Backpack manufacturer CamelBak is providing wearable water-carrying bags at reduced cost to the El Angel sugar mill. The packs give workers access to water throughout their workday, establishing consistent hydration and increasing overall water consumption to healthy levels.
Cross Shift – WE can demonstrate the causes of CKDu. This year WE Program investigators visited eight groups of cane workers at different elevations to measure levels of dehydration and kidney function before and after work shifts. The study results show that dehydration and heat stress drive disease onset. Read more.
Published on Nov 2, 2015
Solidaridad, LIF CEO Jason Glaser runs down the current state of affairs for CKDu: the rising death toll, evolving research landscape, recent Costa Rican policy change, and opportunities to take action.
Published on Oct 5, 2015
The CKDu epidemic has killed more than 20,000 people in the last decade in Central America. The Worker Health and Efficiency (WE) Program is a collaborative initiative aimed at preventing this fatal disease among workers.
Led by La Isla Foundation and Solidaridad, WE brings together the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), leading occupational health experts, policy-makers, universities and sugar producers to find and execute solutions to the problem of CKDu.
Published on Dec 9, 2014
To address working conditions, implementation of OSHA’s Water.Rest.Shade recommendations is an excellent start. But we’re not stopping there. LIF and participating researchers continue to look at the interaction of environmental toxins and their contribution to the development of CKDu. By also improving the tools workers use in the fields, we will protect them from repetitive injuries and work-related heat stress.
Published on Dec 20, 2011
La Isla is a small community located on the outskirts of Chichigalpa, Nicaragua in the Central America lowlands. Its sole economy is the sugar cane industry which relies on young men desperate to provide for their families ensuring an endless supply of labor. The wage they can earn cutting sugar cane makes the work worth it despite the fact that some 70% of men working in the industry develop Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown cause (CKDu).
Research done by both the University of Boston as well as the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, Leon (UNAN) has so far not yielded answers as to the cause of the disease. Meanwhile roughly 250 men are dying every year leaving their community to take on the nickname “la Isla de Viudas,” “the isle of widows.” The dying men range in age from 18 to 40s+ which inherently means they are the breadwinners of the families. Without their earning power the widows of the community are left to try to make ends meet for their children in numbing poverty while their sons grow up destined to swing their machetes and set fire to the ground, in the end to produce consumer grade sugar at a low price. The people of La Isla deserve dignity, can you help?