Slightly smaller than the state of New York, Nicaragua is the largest of the Central American countries. Lakes, volcanoes and rainforests provide the setting for an amazing biodiversity and a wealth of natural resources. But the country's turbulent history—fraught with foreign intervention, corrupt governments and economic exploitation—has kept Nicaragua among the poorest of Latin American countries. According to the United Nations, a greater proportion of people in Nicaragua—80 percent—live on less than $2 per day than in any other country in Latin America and the Caribbean. Still, with adequate investments in health, education, infrastructure and, most importantly, agriculture, the majority of the population—rural small-scale farmers and other marginalized communities—would benefit from economic growth.
Catholic Relief Services began working in Nicaragua in 1964, providing emergency supplies in the wake of a hurricane. Today, CRS works to improve the lives of Nicaragua’s poorest and most vulnerable communities by combining emergency preparedness and relief with long-term development assistance. In partnership with the Catholic Church and civil society organizations, CRS implements projects in agriculture and natural resource management, microfinance, health, emergency response and risk management, and human rights and civil society.