Addressing Severe Poverty in Nicaragua

Restore health. Revive lost hope.

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Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, and its people have long faced significant challenges in obtaining even basic necessities. In collaboration with trusted ministry partners and faithful donors around the world, Cross Catholic Outreach is working to meet the needs of these struggling families and help them fight their way out of poverty.

The poorest children in rural Nicaragua only eat one meal per day.

In rural Nicaragua, poor families have very limited opportunities for educating their children or improving their situation in life. In fact, most villagers are living hand-to-mouth, day by day. They are typically day laborers on local farms and large plantations, earning meager wages in return for backbreaking work. They struggle to secure basic necessities, such as food and safe housing, and nearly one-third of the rural population lives without access to improved water sources.

Keep reading to learn more about the plight of Nicaragua’s poor, and discover the steps you can take to make a difference!

A map of Nicaragua

Quick Facts

Population: 6,203,441 (2020 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP): $5,900 (2017 est.)

Literacy rate: 82.6%

Infant mortality: 16.5 deaths/1,000 live births

Population below poverty line: 29.6% (2015est.)

Religions: Roman Catholic 50%, Evangelical 33.2%, Unspecified 13.2%

Sources: CIA World Factbook

According to the CIA World Factbook, about 30% of Nicaragua’s rural population does not have access to improved water sources. Children often collect contaminated water in unclean containers and contract intestinal parasites as a result.

The Problem

War, Disaster and the Wide Wealth Gap

In the 1980s, civil war devastated Nicaragua, destroying much of the nation’s infrastructure and making it difficult for many families to rebuild their lives. Years later, a persisting wealth gap, a low minimum wage, a lack of access to quality schools, frequent earthquakes and a high rate of teen pregnancy continue to plague families, preventing them from improving their circumstances.

Poverty is particularly dire in the country’s rural regions. There, most families are engaged in employment as seasonal farm laborers, performing arduous work for minimal pay and scrambling to find odd jobs after the harvest. Often, remote villages do not have access to quality schools. In addition, malnutrition and waterborne bacteria put many villagers at risk for infectious diseases. Rural inhabitants commonly suffer from high fevers, gastrointestinal issues, anemia and kidney disease, as well as respiratory ailments due to the use of smoky indoor stoves.

Fifty percent of Nicaragua’s population identifies as Catholic, but when every day is a fight for survival, even people of faith can start to question God’s presence in their lives. Devoted ministries are striving to reveal Christ’s mercy and relieve the burden on the poor, but they need outside help to accomplish these goals.

With your support, we can empower devoted ministries that are striving to provide clean water and other necessities to families in need.

Poverty Relief in Nicaragua

Restoring Health and Hope Among the Poor

Cross Catholic Outreach is a Vatican-recognized 501(c)(3) organization that empowers Catholic ministries, parishes and dioceses serving the poor in developing nations. By partnering with these existing outreaches, we strive to unify the global Church, linking compassionate donors with priests, nuns and missionaries who are working “in the trenches” to transform impoverished communities.

Cross Catholic Outreach is working in rural Nicaragua to transform the lives of villagers who face a desperate choice between drinking contaminated water and going thirsty. Join this outpouring of God’s love in delivering improved health, better infrastructure, education support, economic development and community solidarity in obedience to Christ’s call to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Donate Today to Provide Hope to Nicaraguans

Today, we are calling on compassionate Catholics like you to partner in this important work. Your support will empower ministries such as Amigos for Christ and Rainbow Network to share God’s mercy with the poor in Nicaragua. Together, we can relieve the burden on struggling families by providing lifesaving nourishment, installing clean water systems, improving family health, building safe housing, caring for vulnerable children and empowering families with sustainable sources of income.

Change Lives Now

Please — join our concerted effort to address poverty in Nicaragua. With proper nutrition, clean drinking water, safe housing, and access to other important resources, poor families will finally be able to move forward with improved health and hope for the future.

Change Even More Lives

Giving monthly is a small way to have a big impact. Your regular support empowers our ministry to respond to urgent needs and fulfill our long-term projects across the world.

Become a monthly donor today and experience the joy of impacting lives every month.

What is the poorest country in Central America? What is the richest?

With a GDP Per Capital (PPP) of only $5,900, Nicaragua is considered the poorest country in Central America. In contrast, Panama is the richest country in Central America with a per capita GDP of $25,400.

What causes poverty in Central America?

The root causes of poverty vary from country to country, but common factors include oppressive historical events (such as civil war), an unequal distribution of wealth, frequent natural disasters and a lack of access to quality schools. High rates of drug abuse, crime and teen pregnancy can also serve as contributing factors.

How many people in Nicaragua live in poverty?

Nicaragua has a population of 6,203,441, and 29.6% live below the poverty line — about 1,836,219 people. According to numbers from The World Bank, more than 812,650 Nicaraguans (13.1% of the population) live on less than $3.20 per day.

What are the ways to help the poor?

Two of the most immediate, effective ways you can help the poor are by praying and giving. Intercede on behalf of the suffering, asking God to miraculously meet their needs. Then, take action to fund ministries that are working to bring relief and reveal Christ’s love. In this way, we can be the hands and feet of Jesus to the poor!

Donations from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures for this project incurred through June 30, 2025, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.