Nicaragua: Land of Beauty and Poverty
Neighbors to Nicaragua works in communities in and around the cities of Managua and Granada as well as the island of Ometepe. Though our organization is based in the United States, all programs and activities operate in Nicaragua.
The Central American country is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, with an average annual income of $1,028 or just $2.92 a day. School enrollment and literacy rates remain low. The average number of years of schooling is just 4.5, and around one-third of children do not attend school at all. While the overall literacy rate of Nicaragua hovers around 78-percent, as in various other Central American nations, literacy rates are much lower in rural regions of the country. According to the World Bank, in areas outside of the capital and larger city centers, only 51-percent of Nicaragua’s residents can read and write. We estimate that just one-third of the approximately 13,000 residents in Pantanal, one of our primary service locations, is considered literate.
Poor education, a lack of adequate employment, and additional issues associated with poverty have forced many children and youth to live on the streets in search of food, work, and shelter. It is estimated that between 10- and 15-percent of Nicaraguan youth under the age of 18 are working and/or living in the streets. Homelessness increases their risk of addiction, HIV/AIDS, pregnancy, gang involvement, violence, and death.