Nicaragua is the third poorest country in Latin-America after Haiti and Guatemala. With its almost six million inhabitants and its size of 130’000 square kilometres, it is comparable to Switzerland even though three times in size. Even though seen on a global scale Nicaragua does not belong to the poorest countries, the gap between rich and poor is alarming. The inequality index in Nicaragua is higher than the average inequality index in Latin-America and the Caribbean. Especially rural regions and ethnic minorities are lacking access to basic state services such as health centres, schools or general infrastructure. Food security amongst rural farmers in still very precarious and many are suffering hunger at least during some parts of the year.
This is why Caritas Switzerland is dedicating its efforts to farmers in rural regions helping them to improve their food security applying sustainable methods such as organic agriculture. In order to reach this goal, they are helped to increase their production, reduce the post harvest losses, organize themselves in cooperatives, diversify their products and make sure that they can sell them for a good price on the local market. Education and trainings are key issues in order to reach this.
As Nicaragua is regularly hit by natural catastrophes, severely intensified during the last 25 years by climate change, disaster risk reduction is an important topic which must be considered for all agricultural projects. Volcano eruptions, flooding, droughts, tropical storms, earthquakes, landslides have a strong impact on agricultural activities.
Caritas Switzerland is also making efforts to improve the poor educational level of rural children as education forms part of the basic human rights of each and every person. Especially poor kids in remote areas are prone to start work very early. Five year old girls and boys can be found on the local markets, as street vendors or shoe shiners. Tackling this problem does not only mean to send kids to school but to look at it from a holistic point of view. The root cause is usually the lack of family income. This is why Caritas Switzerland also supports in this line of work poor families with income generating projects.
Caritas Switzerland is focusing its intervention on the capital Managua and on the dry regions of the country which can be found along the pacific coast and the border with Honduras. We currently support the work of five project partners specialized in the fields of food security and education.
Short history of Caritas Switzerland presence in country
Caritas Switzerland is working in Nicaragua since the Eighties and contributes to the reduction of poverty and hunger. Its registered office in Managua, officially representing Caritas Switzerland in Nicaragua, is monitoring closely the work of our partners in order to guarantee smooth implementation according to best practices and correct use of funds. The personnel stays in close contact with the Swiss embassy and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, with the Nicaraguan state and with all relevant stakeholders in Nicaragua. The office staff consists mainly of the coordinator and an financial controller. Regular exchange and fieldtrips between headquarters of Caritas Switzerland in Lucerne and its office in Managua take place.