Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, bordered by Honduras to the north, the Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Its population of 6,734,000 is mainly mestizo (mixed European and Indian ancestry). The country’s capital and largest city Managua is also the second largest city in Central America.
Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the Latin America. According to the United Nations, 48% of the population live below the poverty line. Nicaragua’s geographical location makes it attractive to organized crime and human trafficking.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it in Nicaragua since 1972.
Nicaragua is highly dependent on agriculture, which is the main source of income for 90% of the rural population. Farmers along the Central American arid corridor struggle to sustain their crops because of droughts and heavy rains.
Rural and indigenous communities have high rates of malnutrition and maternal and infant mortality. Those living below the poverty line are particularly vulnerable to seasonal hunger and food shortages. Climate change is making the situation worse by climate change for families who depend on farming.
Nicaragua has a high school dropout and child labour rate, which is a result of poverty.
Families cannot afford to buy school materials for their children and are also dependent on their children's labour to secure the family income.
However, the fact that children have to give up on their schooling to secure income makes it difficult for them to escape the vicious circle of poverty.
According to UNICEF research, child marriages mostly occur in rural areas, especially in poor households. Most child brides are not formally married, but live with a partner. However, child marriage does not exclusively affect girls. 19% of boys in Nicaragua were married before the age of 18.
In addition to the fact that many children are married to improve the family income, another reason for early marriage is teenage pregnancies due to lack of access to contraception.