A YEAR IN
Children are enjoying better schooling through the Education Quality program in Nicargaua
why Plan works in Nicaragua
• Three-quarters of the indigenous population have little or no access to health services
• Helping more children and mothers get good healthcare, improving young people’s sexual and reproductive health, and boosting clean water and sanitation services
• Children’s rights are not widely recognised, and there are high rates of child labour and domestic and sexual violence
• Improving schools and helping more children to complete their education
• In the areas where Plan works, 30 per cent of children under five are chronically malnourished
• Helping families to have enough to eat by improving agriculture, and giving families opportunities to increase their incomes MEXICO
• Getting children, families and communities involved in raising awareness of children’s rights and child protection
‘I support other kids so they also get organised and participate’
Chixoy This family is enjoying the benefits of the Sustainable GUATEMALA Families project that encourages better farming practices
Nicaragua Facts Other languages include Miskito, Creole and English Climate: Nicaragua has a tropical climate with a dry season (January – June) and a rainy season (July – December). There are three temperature zones. In the lowlands temperatures vary roughly between 22–30°C. The central part of the country is about five degrees cooler, and in the mountains in the north it’s about ten degrees cooler.
widespread underemployment and the second lowest per capita income in the Western Hemisphere. Textiles and apparel account for nearly 60 per cent of Nicaragua’s exports. Nicaragua relies on international economic assistance to meet internaland external-debt financing obligations. Economic growth has slowed in 2009, due to decreased export demand from the US and Central American markets, lower commodity prices for key agricultural exports, and low remittance growth – remittances are equivalent to almost 15NICARAGUA per cent of GDP.
Regiòn Autónoma del Atlántico Norte Lempa mp a
Economy: Nicaragua has
Capital: Managua Population: 5.8 million Languages: Spanish (official).
Puerto Cabezas-Bilwi Madriz galpa Esteli
Chinandega Managua Villa El Carmen
Country Office Program Units
Managua Chontales Blueffields Masatepe Rivas
Lago de Nicaragua
Nueva Guinea Rio S
community development that includes children Children’s fundamental human rights are not widely recognised in Nicaragua, and not often taken into account in community and municipal development. Plan helps to make sure children’s rights are respected. We help them to negotiate with policy-makers. We also help local authorities to make sure that children’s rights are taken into account
in their plans and allocation of resources. We have helped 20 local government offices to produce Municipal Development Plans, which cover education, support for abused children, birth registration and play. A girl at play at a school supported by reconstruction efforts following the 2007 cyclone in northern Nicaragua
Young Leaders Fifteen-year-old Edgardo has had a tough childhood.
‘My dad left when I was six years old, and since then I’ve worked to help support my family: my mother, my brother, who is 10, and me.’ Edgardo, of Chinandega, northwest Nicaragua, started working at a very early age, selling sweets and cigarettes to passengers at the local bus terminal. At that time, his horizons were limited: ‘I didn’t know anything about the rights of children and young people, and even less about opportunities for participation at home, in school or the community.’ However, he was able to go to school: ‘I went to San Agustin Primary School, thanks to a scholarship I received at the age of seven from Plan’s Child and Adolescent Workers project in Chinandega. Now I’m in year ten at secondary school.’ Edgardo began to get interested in children’s organisations, and this enthusiasm has shaped his life so far: ‘I got involved in the activities of the Youth Centre, where I’m now president of the youth assembly. I’m also a volunteer in the New Generations program.’ Helping children’s voices to be heard In Chinandega, Plan helps children and young people get involved in the development of their community. Often, those in authority are unaware of the issues facing children, so a big part of our work is helping children to talk directly with decision-makers. We support them to take part in town hall meetings, demonstrations and children’s radio shows among other things. Through work like this, the children grow in self-esteem and confidence. Edgardo is keen to pass on what he has learnt: ‘I support other kids so they also get organised and participate. I have given them the training that Plan has given me and other child leaders, on things like civic participation, campaign organisation, holding town hall meetings and negotiation.’ The young people have put this experience to good use. They are encouraging Chinandega’s municipal authorities to recognise children’s and young people’s rights in their municipal development plan, and are keeping them accountable to government standards for work with children and young people. ‘We’ve used what we have learned to carry out advocacy Produced for Nicaragua by Plan International Australia.
The Bigger Picture work with the municipal authorities so they comply with the Children’s and Adolescents’ Code,’ says Edgardo. Impressive results Edgardo and his friends have been very successful. ‘We’ve managed to get our municipality to allocate 18 per cent of its budget for us,’ he says proudly, ‘even though municipalities are only required to contribute one per cent of their budget for children and young people.’ The group are continuing to put pressure on the municipal authorities. As Edgardo explains: ‘There were elections for a new mayor last year, and we held meetings with each of the candidates. They all promised to support children and young people if they won the elections. We’ve already organised our group to follow up on agreements and commitments with the newly elected mayor.’ Wanting to make a difference Edgardo and his friends have a strong commitment to children’s rights: ‘Each of us has something that really worries him or her. For me, it’s that parents should not abandon their children, and that support be given to the law for responsible paternity. When children are abandoned, we fall into child labour, leading to a whole chain of violations of our rights. Some other kids focus on ending physical violence, because they [the teachers] beat us in school.’ Edgardo will continue to work hard to improve things for children and young people. With Plan’s support, he has already achieved so much despite a difficult start in life, and he’s excited about what he may be able to do in the future: ‘There are so many things, and our lives are just beginning.’ Some names have been changed for child protection and privacy reasons
‘We’ve already organised our group to follow up on agreements and commitments with the newly elected mayor’
Plan is working with children, families and communities to find sustainable solutions to the challenges in Nicaragua. We have only given you a small insight into Plan’s work in Nicaragua with this report but over the past year we also: • Improved nutrition for 4095 children under five • Helped families increase their incomes by supporting 32 community organisations which provided 1867 families with business loans totalling almost A$131,000 • Improved maternal health by training 190 midwives • Protected children’s rights through community networks, which have dealt with 1260 cases of sexual and physical abuse and domestic violence Your support as a sponsor is crucial to achieving these results. With the resources provided by sponsors, Plan expertise and the collaboration of communities and local partners we are making a big difference to the lives of people in Nicaragua. Thank you for your involvement!
To learn more about Plan’s work in Nicaragua visit plan.org.au/ourwork/ southernamerica/nicaragua
‘We have challenges ahead to enable all Nicaraguan children to achieve the wellbeing and development that they desire. Plan aims to make a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable members of the Nicaraguan population’ – Horacio Torres, Plan’s Country Director in Nicaragua
A summary report on Plan International programs in Nicaragua for the year ending 30 June 2009