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Nicaragua’s human development improving, but got a ways to go

girl begging-new

MANAGUA—Slowly but surely, Nicaragua is climbing out of the cellar of the UN’s Human Development Index—and by more than one step at a time. According to the 2013 Human Development Report, released Tuesday morning in Managua, Nicaragua over the past 12 years is outpacing the Latin American average in its ascent up the human development index, averaging 1.1% growth per annum (compared to the Latin America’s average of .7% and the overall world average of .95%). Nicaragua’s improved standing is due in great part to horrid starting point and substantial reductions in extreme poverty; the percentage of those earning less than $2.5/day has dropped from 59.1% in 1993 to 36.2% in 2009, according to the most recent data available in the UNDP report. Nicaragua also has more people breaching the middleclass threshold—folks who live on $4-10/day (a UN classification known as “vulnerable”). The percentage of those who live with one foot in poverty but their eyes on a middleclassdom has increased from 19.7% to 32% over the past 16 years. Continue Reading →

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Is economic expansion helping human development in Nicaragua?


Despite a period of steady economic expansion under the second coming of the Sandinista government, Nicaragua has not made any notable progress in the United Nation’s Human Development Index over the past six years. In the 2013 index, released by the United Nations Development Project (UNDP) last Friday, Nicaragua ranks 129th in the world, occupying the lower half of countries in the category of “medium human development.” The global scale is divided into four categories of human development: “very high,” “high,” “medium” and “low.”

In comparison to the rest of Central America, Nicaragua is well behind Panama (ranked 59th) and Costa Rica (62nd), which both qualify as “high human development” countries. Nicaragua also trails Belize (96th), El Salvador (107th) and Honduras (120th), all of which rank in the “medium development” category. In Central America, Nicaragua is ahead of only Guatemala, which ranks 133 in this year’s human development index. In 2006, the year prior to President Daniel Ortega’s return to power, Nicaragua was ranked 112th on the human development index, slightly ahead of Honduras (117th) and Guatemala (118th). Continue Reading →

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IMF: Nicaragua’s economy must grow faster

(posted May 15, 12:50 p.m.)-Despite Nicaragua’s strong economic recovery from the financial crisis of 2008-09, the country must grow its economy even faster to reduce poverty, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Following a nine-day IMF visit to the Nicaragua, which concluded May 11, Marcello Estevao, IMF mission chief for Nicaragua, said Nicaragua has done a good job recovering its economy—growing at  clip of 4.5% annually—while keeping inflation in check and strengthening the Central Bank’s international reserves. Estevao also noted that Nicaragua’s economic outlook for 2012 is “generally positive,” despite slowing growth levels this year and an expected inflation rate around 8-9%. But to really move the country out of poverty, Nicaragua needs to grow its economy even faster, says Estevao.  

“Higher economic growth is essential to reduce poverty rates significantly over the medium-term,” Estevao said, according to an IMF statement released today. Continue Reading →

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FAO: Nicaragua needs to decentralize response to malnutrition


(posted May 14, 1:30 p.m.)- The Nicaraguan government needs to decentralize its efforts to provide food security and combat malnutrition, which affects 19% of the population—one of the highest levels in Latin America, according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Gero Vaagt, the FAO’s representative in Nicaragua, told the local press today that the government ought to create municipal commissions to respond to problems of malnutrition and food insecurity in each of the country’s 153 municipalities. The issue, he said, needs to be approached as an “inter-institutional issue,” according to El Nuevo Diario. Vaagt stressed that Nicaragua is in a unique position to respond to the issues of malnutrition and food insecurity if it were to diversify its agricultural production more and take advantage of world prices to produce basic grains for export, rather than importing foods that can be produced here. The FAO notes that malnutrition in Nicaragua has dropped from 52% in 1989 to 19% in 2010, but says that number still represents about 1 million people. Continue Reading →

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