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A YEAR IN

NICARAG09UA SUMMARY REPORT

3

GOOD REASONS why Plan works in Nicaragua

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BELIZE

Children wash their hands before going to class.

JAMAICA

• In rural areas two-thirds of people do not have adequate sanitation facilities, and a third do not have safe drinking water • Although 87% of children enrol in primary school, more than half drop out before completing their fifth year

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HONDURAS

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Regiòn Autónoma del Atlántico Norte

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Our priorities in Nicaragua

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• Contributing to better mother and child health, providing clean water and sanitation facilities, and promoting birth registration

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NICARAGUA

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COSTA RICA

• Increasing educational standards and school attendance, and providing literacy training for adults • Helping families to increase their incomes, and improve nutrition • Raising awareness of issues such as violence and a buse, and getting children involved in improving their communities

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Country Office Plan Programme

• Abuse, sexual exploitation, violence and child labour are serious problems

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PANAMA

– Argentina Martinez, Plan’s Resource Mobilisation Manager

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NICARAGUA FACTS

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“We renew our commitment to the girls, boys and young people of Nicaragua, especially the poorest, and to making changes together so they can develop fully in families, communities, and a society that respect their rights”

Capital: Managua

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Climate: Temperature varies little with the seasons in Nicaragua and is largely a function of elevation. The ‘hot land’, is characteristic of the foothills and lowlands from sea level to about 750

Economy: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2008 was estimated at $17.37 billion USD. The service sector is the largest component of GDP at 56.9%, followed by the industrial sector at 26.1% (2006 est.). Agriculture represents only 17% of GDP. Nicaraguan

labor force is estimated at 2.322 million of which 29% is occupied in agriculture, 19% in the industry sector and 52% in the service sector. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, measured in GDP per capita. rat

Language: Spanish (official). Other languages include Miskito, Creole and English

in this region are 22°C to 24°C, with night time lows below 15°C.

At

Population: 5.1 million

meters of elevation. And night temperatures drop to 21°C to 24°C most of the year. The tierra templada, or the ‘temperate land’ is characteristic of most of the central highlands, where elevations range between 750 and 1,600 meters. The ‘cold land’ at elevations above 1,600 meters, is found only on and near the highest peaks of the central highlands. Daytime averages

Children contribute to a food security project.


A YEAR IN

NICARAGUA SUMMARY REPORT

09

FOCUS ON: SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH Nicaragua has one of Latin America’s highest teenage pregnancy rates. Half of women aged 20 are mothers, and half of those births were unplanned. Many teenagers do not have access to contraception, or to information to help them to make informed decisions. Plan trains teenagers to act as leaders and counsellors promoting responsible sexual behaviour. It’s important, not only because the children of teenage mothers tend to grow up in poverty, but because engaged, informed teenagers stand a better chance of growing up into active citizens, transforming their communities and Nicaraguan society.

BEING A COUNSELLOR CHANGED MY LIFE

M

arta is 19 and lives in southern Managua, Nicaragua’s capital. She is studying administration, and also works with teenagers as a volunteer health counsellor.

A group works to reduce the incidence of violence in Nicaragua.

The Bigger Picture

Plan is working with children, families and whole communities to address the problems that Nicaragua faces. This report can only tell a small part of that story. As a further insight, last year we also: • Helped 1,000 families grow new crops, raise livestock, and get better irrigation through the distribution of start-up loans • Helped to equip 250 schools, trained teachers, and got parents and communities involved • Provided emergency health, education, housing, water, and sanitation help to 12 communities affected by Hurricane Felix in September 2007 Your support as a sponsor is crucial to achieving these positive results. So on behalf of the communities, partner organisations, and most of all the children we work with – thank you!

“I learned for the first time about sexual and reproductive health, and about issues like selfesteem, communication, and values” To learn more about Plan’s work in Nicaragua visit plan.org.au/ourwork/southernamerica/nicaragua

Produced for Nicaragua by the Australian National Office.

This isn’t the first time Marta has been involved in community development. She was a keen member of her local youth group: “We talked about interesting issues that affected us all, and about problems in our neighbourhood. I built good friendships, and found a space to express my opinions,” she says. Marta’s journey as a counsellor began when the group chose her to attend sexual and reproductive health training run by Plan. “I learned for the first time about sexual and reproductive health, and about issues like selfesteem, communication, and values.” The project supports young people to pass on what they have learned about sexual and reproductive health. Working in pairs, they run workshops for other teenagers in schools and youth groups, and discuss health issues with their peers: “At school, I began to talk to my classmates about issues that were unknown to them. Sometimes they looked at me kind of weird because of what I was telling them.” Plan also helps parents to support their children. For Marta, this was very important: “The training helped us to have more trust and respect for our parents, and better communication.” Marta was keen to take things further. “I joined the National Adolescent Council, representing my youth group, and got involved in putting together proposals at a national level to support children and young people’s development in my country. I developed links with other youth groups, and took part in consultations, forums, debates, and festivals supporting children and young people’s participation and their rights, including sexual and reproductive rights.”

Improving health With others from six Managua neighbourhoods, Marta organised a group of 90 young people called the Association of Community Youth. With support from Plan, they work with institutions like health centres on community activities to improve their local environment, such as clean-up campaigns and mosquito fumigation, and promote responsible behaviour to prevent HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. “We organise public fairs, marches and festivals where we express our problems and our dreams, and explain what we want in our neighbourhoods for young people’s health,” says Marta. The project has equipped young people with the information they need about sexual and reproductive health, and those who have volunteered as counsellors have also benefited enormously. Marta feels she has greater knowledge and better leadership abilities, and has developed a commitment to young people as a result of her experiences. Hope for the future “I have lots of enthusiasm about continuing working and learning every day to be a better person and passing that along to others,” she says. “Being a sexual and reproductive health counsellor has changed lives, above all my own, and now I am a new and better person.” But Marta knows it’s not just about her: “I want to develop young people’s leadership abilities, so they can improve their quality of life and pass that on to the next generation. I’m convinced that we as young people are capable of developing our abilities at school, at home, at church, in communities, to take part in making our country better.” Some names have been changed for child protection and privacy purposes.

“Being a sexual and reproductive health counsellor has changed lives, above all my own, and nowI am a new and better person”

plan.org.au


Plan Nicaragua Annual Progress Report 2009