Rule of Law in Nicaragua
The rule of law in Nicaragua has been precariously balanced for decades. The narcotics trade is rife in Central America, with the Global Organized Crime Index citing the nation as a trans-shipment point for cocaine. The illicit cargo travels from its source of production in South America to its consumer market in North America. Along this journey, drug cartels and gangs use violent means to control the products. Invariably, it is the country’s poorest and most desperate inhabitants who end up working for these criminal organizations.

Working to Stabilize a Fragile Environment

Christian Aid has been one of the key organizations working to create new opportunities for Nicaraguans. Through its partnership with Hibiscus Cooperative and Soppexcca, Christian Aid has afforded training for farmers growing hibiscus, coffee and cocoa to enhance their production, marketing and sales skills. Subsequently, this has allowed local producers to reach new customers and earn a better and more secure living without the influence of cartels. These attempts to bring stability to the local economy go hand-in-hand with the fight to protect the rule of law in Nicaragua, an increasingly volatile nation. 

Presidential Crackdown on Religious Freedom Limits Charity Work

Foreign aid provides funding for charitable organizations in Nicaragua and has become even more critical following the country’s controversial election in November. Chatham House has reported that more than 40 governments across the globe denounced the legitimacy of President Daniel Ortega’s campaign. Ortega ran for his fourth consecutive term in November 2022, continuing a tenure that began in 2007. With the majority of his political opponents currently imprisoned, most regarded his reelection as a foregone conclusion. During a televised speech in September, Ortega launched a campaign against the Catholic faith, accusing the Pope of being a dictator and describing priests as killers’ and coup-plotters. 

Ortega’s authoritarian rule of law in Nicaragua has seen him initiate a war on religious freedom. In an attempt to limit the influence of Christianity, which he sees as the only viable threat to his leadership, Ortega suspended 2,600 nonprofit organizations in Nicaragua in 2022, according to Christianity Today.

NGOs That are Still Operational

While Ortega’s assault on the NGO sector will have significant repercussions on the rate of poverty in Nicaragua, there are organizations that are still functioning. El Porvenir is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that works to provide clean water through community water systems. The charity focuses on various aspects of sanitation, including building double-pit latrines, educating communities on the best practices for health and hygiene and restoring watersheds via nature-based design and reforestation. So far, the organization has benefitted nearly a quarter of a million people in Nicaragua, building 14,000 latrines and planting 1.6 million trees. 

Ultimately, the situation in Nicaragua is delicately poised. The purging of thousands of NGOs by Ortega’s government is deeply troubling for those who wish to see a brighter future for a nation with such a high rate of poverty. However, hope exists moving forward as the work that currently operating NGOs are doing may help create a sustainable future for a time when democracy might one day return and a legitimate rule of law in Nicaragua can be reinstated.

– Max Edmund
Photo: Flickr

Tourism in NicaraguaNicaragua is the largest country in Central America by land with many attractions for tourists to visit and explore from volcano walks to sandy beaches to the largest forest reserves in the region. Indeed, tourism in Nicaragua has steadily increased over the past two decades, accounting for 9.1% of GDP in 2013. Of note, according to Dartmouth, “Nicaraguan tourism accounted for 7.9% of employment in 2013 and is expected to increase to 8.8% by 2024.” This trend has the potential to help address poverty in the Central American nation.

Tourism in Nicaragua to Alleviate Poverty

In 2007, Manuel Vanegas and Robertico Croes authored a report on the relationship between economic growth, poverty and the expansion of tourism for Nicaragua’s economy. The results of the study found that tourism in Nicaragua has a positive effect on both development and economic growth. 

The study looked further into the relationship between tourism, growth and poverty alleviation in Nicaragua, highlighting the need for government intervention to support growth within the tourism sector which would in turn help create more job opportunities. Vanegas and Croes also explained how foreign exchange earnings come mainly from tourism in developing countries such as Nicaragua.

Croes also looked at poverty alleviation using an error correction method and found that a 1% increase in tourism receipts reduces the poverty index in Nicaragua by 1.23 points. 

Luxembourg Development

In 2005, the Nicaragua Institute for Tourism asked for financial support to develop a national program to support the growth of the tourism industry within the country. The Luxembourg ministry of foreign affairs via its department of Cooperation and Humanitarian action (Lux-Development) funded the project which aimed to promote tourism in regions where poverty is a major problem.

More specifically, Lux-Development placed its attention on education Nicaragua’s economy has been heavily reliant on informal sectors where workers have not had six years of primary schooling. Beginning in 2006, the Ministry funded the building of a platform of educational training for job creation and poverty reduction. Lux-Development also launched a five-year program in 2014, focusing on strengthening training and employability for young people in the tourism sector

COVID-19 Impacts on Tourism in Nicaragua

Although a full evaluation of the economic effects of COVID-19 is still not conclusive, tourism in 2020 did decline from 1.46 million tourists to 474,000. However, World Bank figures show that the economy expanded by 10.3% in 2021 and a further 5% in the first half of 2022 with hotels and restaurants being one of the leading sectors.

Despite this achievement, employment percentages were 2% lower in the second quarter of 2022 in comparison to 2019 and 10% of formally employed individuals shifted to the informal sector in 2021. Furthermore, 28% of households reported a decline in total income.

Looking Forward

Nicaragua has successfully managed to sustain its tourism industry over the past 20 years, positively impacting employment and investment nationwide. Hopefully, as the effects of COVID-19 begin to lessen, the tourism sector will continue to develop and support the alleviation of poverty across the country.

– Amy Sergeant
Photo: Unsplash

living conditions in Nicaragua
Nicaragua is a Central American country bordered by Honduras to the North, Panama to the South and the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans to the west and east, respectively. Though Nicaragua has made substantial progress toward ending poverty in recent decades by cutting the national poverty rate from 47.9% in 1997 to 24.9% in 2016, much of the population still lack adequate access to food, education, employment and clean water. Addressing these issues is key to ending poverty and improving the quality of life for Nicaraguan citizens. Here are four NGOs improving living conditions in Nicaragua.

4 NGOs Improving Living Conditions in Nicaragua

  1. SosteNica: SosteNica is a Nicaragua-based NGO that focuses on helping local farmers transition from subsistence farming to agro-entrepreneurship. While subsistence farmers produce the majority of food in Nicaragua, they often lack access to technology, training and opportunities that could allow them to expand their profits and yields. SosteNica recognizes these limitations and helps promote agricultural growth by introducing farmers to crops and practices that allow for year-round harvesting, connecting them to national markets, and providing modest investments to assist in expanding their operations. By helping local farmers, SosteNica increases food access and stimulates local economies, both of which transform living conditions for people in Nicaragua. One success story is local farmer Daniel Rocha, who “used to harvest 20 quintals (2000lbs) and now, with SosteNica’s support, (harvests) 50 to 60 quintals (5,000 – 6,000lbs) per manzana (1.7 acres).”
  2. Educo in Nicaragua: Educo is a global organization that aims to provide educational opportunities for children worldwide, operating in North and South America, Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania. Commencing its work in Nicaragua in 2004, Educo’s impact is an impressive positive force throughout the country. The organization has been instrumental in advancing education quality in 81 schools and leading projects that improve educational opportunities for more than 11,000 Nicaraguan citizens. While Educo works by training teachers, providing school supplies and expanding the reach of educational institutions, it also focuses on creating a befitting environment for students by providing schools with running water, electricity and overall clean facilities.
  3. El Porvenir: Operating since 1990, El Porvenir is an NGO that seeks to expand access to clean drinking water for the people of Nicaragua. It takes a comprehensive approach in order to fulfill this goal, emphasizing education on safe and sustainable water usage, providing better waste management techniques, working on reforestation efforts and assisting in building wells and irrigation systems. For example, El Porvenir not only helps construct household double pit latrines and community wash stations but also educates locals on the water cycle and environmental sustainability. In its time in Nicaragua, the organization has assisted 649 clean-water projects, constructed 14,311 latrines/toilets and improved living conditions for more than 240,000 Nicaraguans.
  4. Nicaragua Nonprofit Network: One of the more innovative NGOs improving living conditions in Nicaragua is the Nicaragua Nonprofit Network. Among local humanitarian organizations, there is often poor communication. Things like limited online presence, moving from place to place or only operating seasonally can cause organizations to overlap in their efforts or simply work less effectively than they otherwise could. Not only does this limit the opportunity for positive change to occur, but it can also be damaging to communities if organizations implement different strategies or technologies that do not work well together. Because of this, the Nicaragua Nonprofit Network is dedicated to cataloging all humanitarian nonprofits in Nicaragua and facilitating their communication and cooperation. By consolidating information and making it more readily accessible, organizations can more easily collaborate and complete their goals.

Looking Forward

Though recent developments in Nicaragua’s political situation make the fate of these NGOs uncertain, they have still done great work, and will hopefully continue to improve living conditions in Nicaragua.

– Xander Heiple
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Women's Rights in Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, with a population of 6.6 million inhabitants. Women in Nicaragua face many challenges such as increased poverty and violence. The following will present several areas where women’s rights in Nicaragua require improvement.

Violence Against Women

In Nicaragua, violence against women in the form of abuse is one of the most serious social issues that the country faces. Among married women in Nicaragua, 52% have reported cases of spousal abuse, with a median duration of five years. Additionally, 21% of these women reported an overlap between both emotional and sexual violence, with 31% of these women being sexually and/or violently abused during their pregnancy.

Needless to say, these statistics are disheartening and scary. With such high rates of abuse around the country, there seems to be little or no hope for Nicaraguan women to escape this abusive cycle. However, there are several organizations that have contributed to the decrease of sexual abuse in southern countries, such as Self-Help International. It is the largest global organization that works to prevent torture and abuse of all sorts by educating and empowering women in developing countries. Misinformation about abusive relationships is very common among Nicaraguan women. Organizations like this allow women to escape this kind of relationship.

The Gender Gap

The Human Development Report has ranked Nicaragua 124 out of 189 countries based on Gender Equality Index in 2017. Additionally, women are more likely to face poverty in Nicaragua than men. With facts like these, it is evident that there is a disparity between men and women in Nicaragua.

Family members are often the ones who push women in Nicaragua to the sex trafficking industry. Additionally, 28% of Nicaraguan women give birth before they are 18, which is mostly due to sexual violence. This is the issue of society not discouraging violence against women.

Women’s Rights and Poverty

The 2016 poverty rate in Nicaragua was 24.9% with an average salary being $265. A large number of women in Nicaragua experience pregnancy at a young age. They usually stay at home and care for their children rather than working and garnering an income. However, the income that their male counterparts provide for their families is frequently insufficient. In fact, about 78% of households in Nicaragua live in ‘substandard’ conditions, the highest rate in all of Latin America.

This problem returns to the roots of the gender gap and women’s treatment in Nicaragua. It means that the cycle of women having children at a young age and caring for them with a low household income will only continue across the years, even affecting future generations. This means that one of the most important places to start with solving this problem is encouraging education about abuse.


Though there are certain difficult cases that prevent the maximum execution of women’s rights in Nicaragua, hope still exists for the country. With a declining number of abuse cases due to the exposure of organizations like Self-Help International, women’s rights in Nicaragua are beginning to solidify. Self-Help has been working to solve global issues like hunger and poverty since 1999, and it provides education and opportunities for women in these countries. In 2019, Self-Help was able to offer clean drinking water to 3,600 Nicaraguan residents in nine communities. With this preceding success, it is likely that Self-Help’s initiative to alleviate the women’s rights issues in Nicaragua will quickly gain traction.

Self-Help is currently working on a project to educate and empower 200 Nicaraguan women through workshops and microloans. This could lead to a reduction in young women entering and staying in abusive relationships. It is the success of the organizations like this one that can bring hope to women and influence the policymakers when spreading awareness about women’s rights.

Though Nicaragua’s statistics regarding women’s rights and abuse are not yet within positive measures, the work of NGOs should result in the improvement of conditions for women in Nicaragua over the next decades.

– Andra Fofuca
Photo: Flickr

 domestic violence in NicaraguaDomestic violence is a global issue affecting one in three women worldwide. The United Nations defines domestic violence as “a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.” Abuse can be sexual, emotional, physical, economic or psychological. In order to uphold women’s rights, it is important to combat domestic violence in Nicaragua.

Domestic Violence and Poverty

Data indicates that women living in poverty are at greater risk of abuse. Women who earn less than $10,000 a year experience domestic violence at a rate “five times greater” than women who earn more than $30,000 a year. This is because impoverished women are often financially dependent on their abusers and lack financial prospects, making them more vulnerable to abuse as perpetrators exploit this reliance knowing there are few options of escape.

In contrast, victims with enough resources to secure shelter and basic needs are more independent, and therefore, are significantly more likely to escape domestic violence circumstances. By this logic, a clear link exists between poverty and domestic violence. Although, even in wealthier countries such as the United States, domestic violence is prevalent, with almost a quarter of women in the U.S. experiencing domestic violence.

Since high poverty rates are usually associated with high rates of domestic violence, some would expect a domestic violence crisis in a low-income country such as Nicaragua. Nicaragua is the second-most impoverished country in the Americas, coming right after Haiti, with almost 30% of the Nicaraguan population living under the poverty line in 2014. Nicaragua’s domestic violence rate was 55% in 1995, but the country has made significant progress with domestic violence decreasing to 28% in 2016. Furthermore, “Nicaragua has the lowest rate of femicides in Central America (0.7/100,000) according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC).”

Actions to Reduce Domestic Violence

In 2007, new legislation mandated “equal representation ensuring that at least 50% of public offices be held by women.” As a result, Nicaragua has the highest rate “of women in Ministerial positions in Latin America” at 56.25% and women represent 46% of the legislature.

In addition to this, Nicaragua’s ongoing drives and campaigns aim to address cultures of violence against women in the nation. These campaigns also involve promoting men’s involvement in home and domestic chores, reducing societal masochistic cultures and empowering women to end “economic and social dependence on men” and stop cycles of domestic violence.

The program Zero Usury aims to empower women by granting them financial independence. To do this, the Nicaraguan “government has given low-interest loans to” more than “900,000 women over the last 14 years to enable them to start small businesses in urban areas.”

In 2012, Nicaragua passed the Comprehensive Act against Violence towards Women. The act mandated the creation of “the national inter-institutional commission to combat violence against women, children and adolescents, composed of 17 state institutions, with departmental and municipal branches.”

The Comprehensive Care Model for Women, also created in 2012, ensures every victim of domestic violence will have access to proper care and justice by carrying out proper investigations for every case and compensating victims. The mechanism aims to uphold children and women’s rights “to live with dignity and free from violence.”

Looking to the Future

Nicaragua is also part of the U.N. Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, with the aim of eradicating “violence against women by 2030.” To align with this goal, Nicaragua commits to implementing a “series of political, legislative and administrative actions to eradicate violence against women and girls,” among other efforts.

Nicaragua is a phenomenal example to the world when it comes to domestic violence as it shows that a country can decrease its rates of violence by investing in women’s empowerment programs and legislation that fights for gender equality and the protection of women.

– Noya Stessel
Photo: Flickr

Pearl Foundation
The Pearl Foundation is a nonprofit organization based on Christian beliefs. As a humanitarian service, the organization expands its ministry in Nicaragua through assistance in nursing homes, helping find recyclables, providing feeding services and much more.

Why Nicaragua?

Linda and Darrell Hindson started taking mission trips to Nicaragua in 2000. The couple had developed such a bond with the people there that they then set more trips in motion. With the church’s help, the pair founded the Pearl Foundation in 2007, with the ultimate goal being ministry but also improving the lives of the people of Nicaragua.

How the US Provided Aid in Honduras

In an interview with The Borgen Project, Reynel Soto recalled poverty in the mountains of Honduras. He claimed that “Poverty is when people have no money, no houses… That’s what poverty is to me.” He also recalled there not being many job opportunities. The people survived off the land, farming and taking advantage of banana and mango trees. When asked about the United States coming in to help, he said, “Concrete costs a lot of money. The U.S. came in and pour concrete in the floors and built roofs… It made a big difference, yeah.”

The Pearl Foundation understands the need to connect with all of humanity every time a stomach is full, a person learns how to make money despite economic difficulties and someone finds joy in the midst of pain. The organization comprises teams that are working towards reducing poverty by highlighting the value of relationships and personal morals.


In recent years, the Pearl Foundation has funded Christmas presents for children, fed multitudes of families and individuals, have explored the recycling opportunities at dumps and have educated the public on economic distress on their blog and Facebook, prompting people to donate money. With headquarters in both Granada, Nicaragua and Boiling Springs, South Carolina, the organization gathers numerous volunteers and raises money.

The Impact of Nonprofits

Many nonprofits host fundraisers, ask for donations online and rely on volunteers or interns to maintain necessary resources. The money they obtain may go toward a specific need or advocacy while the rest goes toward expansion. Making decisions to fund infrastructure, feeding programs, shoes and more are essential to encouraging economic growth, making for a better future and quality of life for communities.

Nonprofits take on a responsibility most would not. According to Naomi Camper, nonprofits should participate in the policy-making process to further ensure stable communities as organizations are experienced in financing, resources, communication and marketing. With this knowledge, economies stand a chance at growth, security and mobility.

Foreign Aid Myths Many US Citizens Believe

U.S. citizens have many misconceptions when it comes to foreign aid. Many believe that the U.S. spends around 25% on foreign aid when the reality is 0.1%. To top it off, the myth goes that any aid does not even make a difference. However, there has been a reduction in diseases such as malaria, polio, HIV/AIDS and many other curable or controllable illnesses around the world. In recent years, increased spending on the health of children saved approximately 3.3 million lives.

Many may also think of foreign aid as charity, meaning that the U.S. gets nothing in return. The reality is that the U.S. seriously negotiates what it does with the budget to ensure that it will benefit U.S. citizens. To avoid corruption, many organizations such as USAID keep track of how donor countries use the money, as well as create systematic contracts with government facilities. These precautions keep foreign aid genuine.

Another misconception is that foreign aid is only useful and necessary during war times. However, the likelihood of safety is greater during times of peace, as it reduces the chance of conflict. In the long run, providing stability to those who need it will likely not lead to the need for U.S. military intervention.

The Importance of Economic Growth

Economic growth ensures services for communities, essentially when it comes to improving living standards. Nonprofit organizations have employed approximately 12.3 million people compared to those that other U.S. companies employ. Nonprofits also supply the unemployed with job skills and training to help find them opportunities and take care of elderly parents.

Economic growth can also increase based on the events a nonprofit hosts. For example, an organization can hold a concert as a fundraiser. Many people go shopping to dress up for the occasion, go out to eat before or after, potentially pay for parking and, of course, donate. This brings in tax revenue, giving businesses a reason to stay open.

Bringing Hope to the Hopeless

The Pearl Foundation contributes to job opportunities, tax revenue and peace when aiding the people of Nicaragua. Not only is it about poverty, but the nature of mankind. The organization uses its morals to reach new staff members and volunteers to raise money. It passionately serves people by providing fun and games, food, assistance and knowledge of ways to make a living. Nicaragua is in good hands thanks to the assistance the Pearl Foundation provides.

– Selena Soto
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Nicaragua
Human trafficking became a topic of global concern in the 1990s. However, governments, international organizations and nonprofits are continuing to research the issue and come up with new ways to prevent it. Less research exists on human trafficking in Latin America and the Caribbean in comparison with Asia and Europe. However, the available information highlights a few key aspects of human trafficking in Nicaragua.

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Nicaragua

  1. Nicaragua’s Location: Nicaragua is a country in Central America. It is between Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. This makes it a common transit country for migrants traveling between South America and North America. Migrants are one of the groups facing the highest risk of human trafficking and exploitation.
  2. Nicaraguan Migrants: Many of the Nicaraguan migrants who become trapped in human trafficking end up in Costa Rica. This corresponds with migration flows. Since 2018, more than 72,000 Nicaraguan migrants have fled to Costa Rica. Nicaraguan migrants are also victims of human trafficking in other Central American countries, Mexico, the United States and Spain.
  3. Women and Children: In addition to migrants, women and children face the highest risk of human trafficking in Nicaragua. In 2018, girls and women represented 79% of trafficking victims in Central America and the Caribbean. Traffickers utilize the majority of victims in Central America for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
  4. Human Trafficking Numbers: Walk Free’s Global Slavery Index estimated that 18,000 people in Nicaragua were living in modern slavery in 2018. Modern slavery encompasses a range of exploitative situations, including forced labor and debt bondage. It also includes human trafficking.
  5. Nicaragua’s Trafficking Status: In the 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report, the U.S. Department of State downgraded Nicaragua from a Tier 2 to a Tier 3 country. This means that Nicaragua does not meet the established standards for achieving the elimination of human trafficking. It also means that the Nicaraguan government is not making a significant effort to meet those standards.
  6. The Vulnerability of the Impoverished: Poverty increases the vulnerability of people to trafficking and exploitation. Human traffickers often target vulnerable individuals. Poverty can also drive family members to sell children to traffickers or become traffickers themselves. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 30% of Nicaraguans live in poverty and 8% live in extreme poverty.
  7. Illiteracy and Unemployment: In addition to poverty, illiteracy and unemployment also increase the risk of human trafficking in Nicaragua. In 2015, 83% of Nicaraguans ages 15 and above were literate. Illiteracy and unemployment increase individuals’ vulnerability and make it more difficult for trafficked persons to escape traffickers and avoid future dangerous situations.
  8. Anti-trafficking Treaties and Protocols: Nicaragua is a party to multiple international anti-trafficking treaties and protocols. Some examples include the U.N. Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons and the International Labour Organization Convention 105 on the Abolition of Forced Labor. By being a party to these treaties and protocols, the Nicaraguan government recognizes human trafficking as illegal and states that it will work to prevent human trafficking.
  9. The U.S. Government: The U.S. government has paid increasing attention to preventing human trafficking in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2016, the government dedicated $11 million to anti-trafficking efforts in Latin America. The funds go toward a variety of anti-trafficking projects, including working with governments in Latin America to solve specific challenges in preventing human trafficking that those governments are facing.
  10. Casa Alianza Nicaragua: One of the many nonprofit organizations fighting human trafficking in Nicaragua is Casa Alianza Nicaragua. Casa Alianza, or Covenant House in English, provides housing and support for children trafficking victims and teenage mothers who were trafficking victims. It can hold up to 70 children each night. It also offers courses in sewing, baking, jewelry-making and small business administration to the residents of its shelters. This helps to combat poverty and decreases vulnerability to future trafficking. Casa Alianza partners with other nonprofits to improve victim identification, build local capacity and provide help to suspected trafficking victims. The nonprofit has contributed to decreased gang activity in the area and increased school attendance among children.

Hope for the Future

Although the Nicaraguan government has decreased its efforts to combat human trafficking, many other countries and organizations continue to work to prevent human trafficking in Nicaragua. Casa Alianza is just one example of the existing anti-trafficking work in Nicaragua. Research on human trafficking in Latin America and the Caribbean is growing, and this will enable governments and NGOs to more effectively prevent human trafficking and support victims.

– Camden Eckler
Photo: Flickr

Economic Development in NicaraguaEconomic development in Nicaragua has encountered issues that have slowed the country’s development. Nicaragua declared itself an independent country in 1821. However, it has directly felt the crippling effect of economic issues from the onslaught of crimes. As recently as 2020, Nicaragua was recognized as a critical threat location for crime by the Overseas Security Advisory Council. Nicaragua has also encountered natural disasters. As of November 2020, Hurricane Eta and Hurricane Iota, Category 4 and 5 hurricanes respectively, caused more than $740 million in damage.

However, even with mounting external and internal pressure, economic development in Nicaragua has shown potential for improvement. This change is based on securing educational opportunities that turn into growth in economic projects. Private organizations have created community centers and offered low- and middle-income citizens better access to education. Such organizations have also created jobs by amplifying the reach of renewable energy, agricultural irrigation expansion and fortification of infrastructure.

Nicaraguan Poverty

Nicaragua has faced an uphill battle in economic growth due to its criminal and poverty-stricken background. The conflict between rival gangs within the country exacerbates this issue. This instability has also caused a decline in economic fortitude. Moreover, inflation has reached undeniably high levels, and people have left Nicaragua in droves to pursue better economic opportunities. The people left behind continue to suffer from a lack of proper healthcare and education.

Education Improves Economic Development

The educational system within Nicaragua is adjacent to the poverty level. Children within the educational system find themselves facing the challenge of completing school due to a wide range of reasons. A recent study from the USAID reported that an estimated 72% of Nicaraguans do not finish secondary school, leaving them likely to be impoverished. In addition, more than 18% of teachers do not have more than primary school education. This creates a new generation of unprepared Nicaraguan citizens.

The correlation between educational attainment and job development is significant. It is the bridge that keeps many Nicaraguans in impoverished income brackets. With the constant issues that many lower-income Nicaraguan students face, there has been an increase in steering them toward an attainable educational path and improving educational success.

Formative Ways of Change

Outside help from the U.N. and the U.S. has created a shift in economic and educational development in Nicaragua in recent years. Organizations such as Save the Children and the World Bank have supported the upturn of educational prowess within Nicaragua. Save the Children has created an infrastructure for educational access by establishing toll roads and paving new ones. Additionally, the World Bank has established more community centers with creative and technical workshops to teach and fortify skills. The skills taught include knowledge of irrigation, infrastructure fortification and a new era of clean and renewable energy.

The organizations have also increased job development and commercial development projects from the private sector. These development projects have provided more job opportunities within the industries of agricultural irrigation, the fortification of infrastructure, renewable energy and the reinforcement of trade.

Projects of this magnitude were given more than just a prime objective with the World Bank portfolio. Such projects totaled more than $400 million for nine planned projects. These projects include the enhancement of telecommunications, roads, education, health and insurance for natural disasters. Two credits have already been passed together, worth more than $100 million, to combat COVID-19 and help those most affected by hurricanes.

The Nicaraguan educational system has had a rise in scholars coming through the ranks to create an ever-growing class of job-ready individuals. Problems of organized crime and violence have troubled Nicaragua in the past, but there is hope to establish a better economic system that can create many more jobs and lead Nicaragua to a better future. Organizations like the World Bank and Save the Children are instituting an educational and job pathway for young and experienced Nicaraguan citizens alike to create a more prosperous Nicaragua.

Mario Perales
Photo: Unsplash

Aquaculture in NicaraguaNicaragua is a popular tourist destination but also the second most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere. The resource-rich country has potential for significant economic growth but a long history of colonization, autocratic governments and neglect of human capital create barriers to economic growth. Agriculture is the main form of industry in Nicaragua as there are large expanses of level, fertile ground in the eastern part of the country. Fishing is also traditional to the area, especially shrimping. In the last few decades, the government began prioritizing the development of infrastructure to support aquaculture in Nicaragua in order to help fisherfolk and reduce poverty.

What is Aquaculture?

Nicaragua is one of the many coastal countries undergoing what is referred to as a “blue revolution.” Nicaragua is testing the capacity of the surrounding waters to bring significant income into the economy. This often means updating a traditional industry such as capture fishing and applying that knowledge with new technology. Furthermore, it means utilizing more environmentally sustainable practices. Aquaculture in Nicaragua was a natural step forward, as its land-based version, agriculture, is already a prolific industry. Learning how to farm the ocean is a relatively new concept but one that is gaining ground quickly in global agricultural circles.

The Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition released a brief in February 2021 detailing the benefits of aquaculture. These benefits range from increased nutrition and food security to a higher national GDP. The panel asserts that aquaculture is one of the fastest-growing aspects of the greater agricultural industry. Additionally, worldwide fish consumption is growing, creating a demand that traditional capture fisheries cannot support sustainably.

Aquaculture Potential in Nicaragua

Aquaculture programs supported by the Nicaraguan Government gained traction in the 1980s. Since then, shrimp farming has become the major export of the fishing industry. While many shrimp farms are owned by large corporations, small farmers are supported by the government and programs like the Nicaraguan Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (INPESCA). In 2018, INPESCA helped residents of the Palo Grande community to form fishing cooperatives and provided the necessary training to learn shrimp farming. Along with the municipal government, INPESCA then gave each of the eight fishing cooperatives, including more than 250 cooperative members, licenses to farm shrimp in designated areas in northwestern Nicaragua.

Not only does this opportunity provide people with the means of creating a steady income and access to a nutritional food source, but, many women who previously relied on their husband’s income are now able to be involved in the work. Instead of working for large companies that underpay workers, people can work for themselves earning the full price of the sold shrimp.

Looking Forward

There are serious challenges to the industry that created major setbacks. Hurricane Mitch devastated coastal properties in 1998, causing flooding and almost 4,000 total deaths in Nicaragua. Just one year later, with shrimp farms still struggling to recover, outbreaks of the fatal white spot syndrome in Nicaragua wiped out large quantities of shrimp.

In spite of past challenges, there are many exciting reasons to support aquaculture in Nicaragua. Offering stable income to uneducated citizens, economic growth for the country, affordable sources of nutritious food and a sustainable form of farming, aquaculture has an impressive array of possible benefits. The Government of Nicaragua and various international organizations continue to pursue further development of aquaculture technologies, hoping to facilitate economic growth and decrease overall poverty.

Kari Millstein
Photo: Flickr

SOPPEXCCA coffee cooperativeCoffee production in Nicaragua is a steadily maturing industry. The coffee industry in Nicaragua accounts for more than $500 million a year in exports and is responsible for more than 200,000 jobs. Roughly 40,000 coffee farmers and their families rely on the coffee industry as their primary income and support. But, despite contributing the lion’s share, small-scale producers are often left behind with paltry benefits. The Society of Small Producers for Coffee Exports (SOPPEXCCA) engages this issue by supporting farming families in Nicaragua. The SOPPEXCCA coffee cooperative was founded in Nicaragua in 1997 with the intention of improving the lives of its members and communities in the Nicaraguan coffee industry.

Coffee in Nicaragua

The rise of specialty coffee is promising for Nicaragua. Nicaraguan beans are distinctly known for their mild and citrus-like taste and are consequently gaining traction in the global market. Roughly 60% of the nation’s coffee output comes from northern regions like Jinotega where SOPPEXCCA was founded.

Most coffee growers face economic challenges beyond living a humble farming life. The crops require a decent amount of maintenance and are prone to environmental risks. A leaf disease called “la roya” puts 30-40% of coffee plants at risk of destruction and hurricanes destroyed 10-15% of the coffee harvest in 2020. Additionally, many children often have to dedicate school time to the farms due to the sheer amount of work involved in producing coffee.

The SOPPEXCCA Coffee Cooperative

SOPPEXCCA empowers farming communities with long-term solutions that stimulate financial literacy, strategy and growth. By building educational institutions, promoting gender equality, utilizing sustainable solutions and communicating with farmers, the cooperative helps give farmers life skills to improve their economic standing. The cooperative works in accordance with the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, which include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. Farmers and communities who join SOPPEXCCA are also protected by a number of international securities. This includes Fair Trade certification and Food4Farmers benefits. These efforts are part of SOPPEXCCA’s anti-poverty agenda.

Muchachitos del Cafe

SOPPEXCCA’s youth movement, Children of Coffee, reaches out to younger generations through education. By providing classes, scholarships and building schools, SOPPEXCCA looks to fund programs that help kids who come from farming backgrounds.

Women’s Empowerment

The SOPPEXCCA coffee cooperative is led by Fatima Ismael and boasts a female membership rate of 40%. Ismael took over leadership in 1997 and pointed the cooperative toward a robust plan on a women-centric approach. Participating coffee businesses and entrepreneurs have supported initiatives for improving public health by investing in cervical cancer prevention programs.

The cooperative has also launched a number of movements to support women in the field of coffee agronomics. The coffee-growing industry is generally typified as masculine. But, cooperatives such as La Fondacion entre Mujeres and Las Diosas, within SOPPEXCCA, seek to empower women in roles typically reserved for males. SOPPEXCCA also supports female coffee producers by giving them the tools and knowledge needed to succeed in the industry, such as marketing and management skills.

Empowering Farmers

SOPPEXCCA also equips farmers with the entrepreneurial skills required to participate in the fast-paced global coffee market. In response to la roya, it partnered with a number of crop diversification outlets to help farmers grow safer and more resilient plants such as cacao. The cooperative has started a chocolate factory to help create jobs and support farmers. SOPPEXCCA also connects small-scale coffee producers with large corporations such as Starbucks, allowing them to apply for loans that can jumpstart their business careers.

The Rise of Craft Coffee

Caffeinated beverages are on the rise within the global market and Nicaraguan coffee will likely be one contender among many pioneering trends. Since its establishment, SOPPEXCCA has significantly grown. It started with fewer than 70 men and women coffee producers and since expanded to 650 men and women producers, organized in 15 cooperatives in SOPPEXCCA. By supporting Nicaraguan coffee farmers, SOPPEXCCA supports poverty reduction in the country.

Danielle Han
Photo: Flickr