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USAID began providing assistance to Nicaragua in 1962 to support the Government of Nicaragua in its national development efforts to achieve economic and social progress. To achieve these goals, USAID helped Nicaragua with infrastructure, health, and education projects which resulted in:

  • 218 km. of rural roads built
  • 150,000 people gained access to electricity
  • 297 rural potable water systems installed
  • 189 primary schools constructed
  • 9 rural education centers constructed and operations financed
  • 55 new health centers constructed
  • 10 rural hospitals built
  • 65,000 vaccination series delivered

After an earthquake devastated the capital city of Managua in 1972, USAID was instrumental in the recovery process and achieved the following results:

  • 8,000 units of housing built
  • 4,560 household water connections installed
  • 60,000 household electric connections repaired

Since its civil war, USAID has helped Nicaragua establish a free market economy, lay the foundation for democratic processes, and improve education and health services.

Major economic and trade accomplishments include the 1990 Balance of Payment Support Program that helped Nicaragua to stimulate its economy through the import of capital goods, raw materials, agricultural inputs, oil, and non-luxury consumer goods. USAID also supported the drafting and revision of 15 commercial and trade laws or regulations to help Nicaragua to reach Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) compliance. USAID has led workshops to train over 2,000 small and medium-sized enterprises in CAFTA-DR export requirements and standards, commodity-specific export opportunities, and the protection of intellectual property rights. USAID support was critical to a 20 percent increase in exports of Nicaraguan products during the first year of CAFTA-DR implementation. USAID’s regional customs unification efforts and training led to a reduction of more than 50 percent of the time needed for fresh vegetables, fruits and other agricultural products to clear customs on the Nicaragua-Honduras border.

Between 1995 and 2009, USAID was instrumental in supporting the Government of Nicaragua in drafting and passing laws that would help Nicaragua meet international standards and help modernize its judicial system. Such support led to a new Organic Law for the Judiciary, a new Criminal Procedures Code, Judicial Career Law, Arbitration and Mediation Law, Criminal Code, and Prosecutor Career Law. USAID also supported the creation of new or strengthened judicial institutions to help increase citizen access to justice.

Since 1992, USAID was a leading donor in Nicaragua's health sector having supported efforts to reduce infant mortality from 52 per 1,000 in 1992 to 29 per 1,000 in 2006. Birth rates fell sharply from 3.8 children per woman in 1998 to 2.7 in 2006. Additionally, during this time nearly 70 percent of women in common law marriages used modern birth control methods making it the highest in the region. USAID assistance also helped improve the water quality in over 300 high-risk communities. There was a 55 percent decrease in the number of children dying from pneumonia in 2007 in hospitals that received USAID assistance. USAID also supported family planning inventory tracking methods to avoid shortages and assisted the Ministry of Health in monitoring the supply capacity of 24 medical products to avoid shortages. 

Similarly, USAID achieved major accomplishments as part of its education program in Nicaragua. Assistance during this time supported an increase in primary school enrollment from 69 percent in 1991 to 87 percent in 2007. In addition, USAID’s model school program increased access to basic education through a network of 2,625 primary schools that cover 46 percent of all primary students and 99 percent of the municipalities in the country.

USAID has been one of the major disaster assistance donors to Nicaragua. In 1998, USAID directed $103.6 million toward the Hurricane Mitch Reconstruction Program supporting infrastructure repair, economic recovery, water access, and sanitation that benefitted more than 280,000 Nicaraguan households and helped rebuild approximately 3,700 kilometers of roads. In 2007, the U.S. government was the first to respond to Nicaragua’s emergency needs from Hurricane Felix with $6.9 million in USAID assistance. We delivered emergency food, hygiene kits, and plastic sheeting; provided food rations for 80,000 people from November to August 2008; and distributed boats, tools, sewing machines and seeds for economic revival.

USAID’s current development program in Nicaragua builds on these successes and continues to promote responsible, transparent governance, a vibrant civil society, and better health and education services for the Nicaraguan people.