Nicaragua location in Central America

Our Programs

Bright New Ideas is involved in Nicaragua through two of our partnership organizations, Grupo Fenix and AVODEC.  We also follow this country’s solar lamp progress in conjunction with Macalester College.  Nicaragua is an impoverished nation in Central America with an extremely high underemployment rate bordering Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south.  Nicaragua has had a difficult time developing for many years due to political instability and natural disasters.  Nicaragua suffered from a revolutionary war followed by a ten-year war civil in the 1980’s which devastated its northern population and infrastructure.  Nicaragua again suffered in 1998 from a category 5 hurricane known as Hurricane Mitch.  We work in many of these northern regions – of both Jinotega and Nueva Segovia.  In these regions over 80% of the rural population has no access to electricity, and access to basic education is a major concern along with the myriad of health and nutritional problems plaguing similar developing nations.  While Nicaragua’s electrification rate of 47% (and 68% taking into account all stolen electricity) is higher than its East African counterparts, Nicaragua suffers frequent and sustained complete blackouts during its dry season between January and June due to its dependence on hydroelectric power. Complicated and perhaps corrupt power-sector dealings have left both rural and urban Nicaragua completely in the dark during power crises in recent years.   Solar-LED lamps have already been proven by Bright New Ideas at affecting rural people’s savings and expanding access to electricity, as evidenced in our letters.  Nicaraguans often use wood fire for illumination, and ocote – a native plant known for its copious amounts of oil.  In some areas, ocote has been completely depleted due to human overuse.  Our solar lamps have shown to completely stop the use of ocote (not to mention purchase of candles) among rural families.

Nicaragua Economy Snapshot

According to the CIA World Factbook:

Nicaragua, the poorest country in Central America, has widespread underemployment and poverty. GDP fell by almost 3% in 2009, due to decreased export demand in the US and Central American markets, lower commodity prices for key agricultural exports, and low remittance growth – remittances are equivalent to almost 15% of GDP. The US-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) has been in effect since April 2006 and has expanded export opportunities for many agricultural and manufactured goods. Textiles and apparel account for nearly 60% of Nicaragua’s exports, but increases in the minimum wage during the Ortega administration will likely erode its comparative advantage in this industry. Nicaragua relies on international economic assistance to meet internal- and external-debt financing obligations, however, foreign donors have curtailed this funding in response to November 2008 electoral fraud. In early 2004, Nicaragua secured some $4.5 billion in foreign debt reduction under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, and in October 2007, the IMF approved a new poverty reduction and growth facility (PRGF) program.

Nicaragua Statistics

Population 5.5 Million
Land Mass (Sq Miles) 49,998
People per Sq Mile 111
Life Expectancy 71 years
Under Age 5 Morality Rate 3.6%
Literacy Rate 77%
Access to safe water 79%
Average Annual Income (USD) $1000
% Below Poverty Level 38%
% Access to Electricity 47%
Rural Population % 43%
Rural Per Capita Energy kWh 366
Underemployment % 46.5%
Primary Education Enrollment 51%
CO2 Emissions Per Capita 0.716 metric tons