Norwegian People's Aid supports partners in Nicaragua working to develop their own organizations, combating violence against women, strengthening women's rights and securing sustainable development of natural resources.
In 2011 Daniel Ortega won his third presidential election, with 62% of the votes. But the government is under strong criticism for limiting democratic rights, election fraud, corruption, and criminalization of therapeutic abortions. The opposition has never been more divided, and the population has little faith in present leaders and politicians. An exception is the Army and the Police Force that enjoy much respect. In fact the National Chief of Police (a previous Catholic nun and FSLN guerrilla fighter) ranks highest in all popularity surveys.
However, the government has made important achievements. The Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) has enabled Nicaragua to start social projects like Zero Hunger, Roof Plan, Zero Usury, and the Solidarity Bonus, with women as the main beneficiaries. The government also established the “Let’s Produce Bank,” which is very useful for small and medium producers. Poverty has dropped by 7% nationwide since 2005, more significantly in rural areas. The “From Martí to Fidel” literacy campaign lowered the illiteracy rate over three years from 19% to 4.73%.
Civil society fragmented
Ortega continues to impose restrictive mechanisms on civil society organizations because they are considered disloyal to the party. On the other hand, civil society has been fragmented since the electoral defeat of the FSLN in 1990. Within many organizations there are tensions between national and local levels. The criticism from regional and local branches of the organizations is that the national level has a top-down, undemocratic, and arrogant style of the government.
Gender based violence is a huge problem in Nicaragua, particularly in rural areas. The new law against violence is considered good by partners, but requires budgeting, dissemination and social pressure to be implemented. Social organizations (including our partners) work to secure political commitment by national and local governments.