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Since 1980, Save the Children has worked to improve the lives of Nicaraguan children and families living in poverty. After the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, our Nicaragua Country Office concentrated its efforts in the heavily affected departments of Chinandega and Leon.
Our Results in Nicaragua
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Farm animals sustain families by keeping them fed and by providing income. As herds grow, families have potential to lift themselves out of poverty.
Donkeys allow families to pull carts, haul water and plow fields. With a donkey, families have a greater chance of a successful harvest.
With fish-farm training, a stock of baby fish, fishing pole, fishhooks, lines and fishing net, a family can feed themselves and start a business to escape poverty.
For less than 20 cents per day, a girl can receive the books, learning materials and school access needed to learn and thrive. The results are life changing.
One-third of all Nicaraguan children never enroll in elementary school, fail to attend, or drop out before reaching the sixth grade. The majority of these children drop out in first grade, before they learn the reading and math skills they need to succeed in life. Other risks that threaten the well-being of Nicaragua's children and youth are malnutrition, teenage pregnancy and early marriages, child trafficking and sexual exploitation, gang involvement and HIV and AIDS.
As Nicaragua is prone to various types of natural disasters, Save the Children has disaster response and emergency preparedness mechanisms in place. When emergencies occur, we deliver life-saving assistance, provide food and ensure the safety and well-being of children.
Save the Children works to make first grade fun for over 7,000 children in 73 primary schools throughout Nicaragua. We improve schools and increase the number of children who enroll and succeed through early childhood education, teacher training, equipping classrooms and educating parents and community leaders. In one rural community in which Save the Children works, we established two preschools and within two years of initiating work doubled first grade enrollment rates.
Save the Children focuses on improving maternal infant, and child healthcare and works in partnership with the Ministry of Health to reach thousands of children living in remote and rural communities who might not otherwise have access to health services. We monitor growth rates, vaccinate, distribute vitamins, and educate young people about proper hygiene and sanitation. We train community health care workers to treat the most common childhood diseases including diarrhea, malaria, and pneumonia. We have increased the scope and scale of these health programs over the past two years from initially treating diarrhea and pneumonia to adding treatment for malaria and, beginning in 2008, for newborn sepsis.
When families have enough food and can support themselves, their children thrive. In 105 communities in four municipalities of Chinandega, we help families secure their access to food through improved technology, family gardening and, in times of crisis, making food available. Our program benefits young children and their families, with a special focus on families led by single mothers. We also organize farmers who produce high-yield, non-traditional crops into groups/associations, improve agricultural techniques (such as crop diversification, basic grain storage and livestock production), enhance small businesses in rural communities, and work with communities to ensure these benefits are sustainable. Over the past five years, the prevalence of chronic malnutrition has decreased from 22 percent to 12 percent in children under age 3 in the communities where the program is in place.
"My name is Victor and I am 7 years old. I go to 1st grade. My teacher is Ms. Blanca. She is fun. Ms. Blanca says that we must study. She says I am very smart and that I learn fast, and I think it's true because I know how to write my name. Since I am in 1st grade, I still have five years to go before I get to 6th grade, and when I get there, I will graduate being the best student!"
Ms. Blanca tells us that we should all tell our mothers the words we are learning. She says that I need to be a good student so that when I grow up I will know many things and I will find a job very quickly and I will make good money.
I like school because there are story books there, and I like it when Ms. Blanca tells us the story of the ugly duckling. Ms. Blanca asks me why I like it. I like it because I will also be handsome when I grow up. I like it when Ms. Blanca takes us out to play when we are good, and she always asks us what we want to play. I like to play cien pies (a type of worm): we all hold hands in between our legs and we hop."
Nicaragua Facts and Statistics
Unless otherwise noted, facts and statistics have been sourced from Save the Children’s 2014 State of the World’s Mothers report.You can access detailed data here.
Other sources as follows: Population and Life Expectancy: CIA World Factbook 2014; Human Development Rank: United Nations Development Programme 2014; Underweight Children: World Health Organization Report 2014
Last Updated December 2014