Sweden’s cooperation with Nicaragua began in conjunction with the Sandinista revolution. To begin with it consisted of humanitarian support and emergency efforts. Broad popular movement support and bilateral development cooperation was later developed within areas such as health, research, state building, rural development and human rights.
Sweden’s development cooperation with Nicaragua will be phased out at the end of December 2011. Swedish staff will be on site in Managua until March 2011. The time up until then will largely be spent on a large-scale project, which is based on summarizing and documenting experiences and results of the development cooperation.
The project is called Exit Nicaragua and will also evaluate the results of the cooperation from 2001 until 2011.
Skilled police officers against sexually-related violence
In all of our support to Nicaragua, we are working to strengthen institutions and improve knowledge and awareness of human rights.
One area we are prioritizing is sexually-related violence. This is evident in our co-operation with the police, where we have trained experts who can then pass this knowledge on to their colleagues.
In another programme, we have been working to give poor people in rural areas access to justice. We have done this through a programme for “barefoot lawyers”, in other words people in villages who have basic training in law but who are working in different fields.
Knowledge brings greater yields
Most of the poor people in Nicaragua live in rural areas. The poorest areas are those around the Atlantic coast and northern Nicaragua. Since 2001, we have been supporting a large-scale project, FondeAgro. The target of the project is to reduce poverty among farmers with small-scale farming.
FondeAgro provides support to impoverished women to improve their small-scale farming so they can give their children a more varied diet. The project also gives impoverished small-scale farmers and farming cooperatives in northern Nicaragua technical help and support to improve their farming. Since the project began, the share of those in the target group that are living below the poverty line has fallen from 73 per cent to 47 per cent.
We have also provided support to a fund that will finance the government’s programme to develop farming in rural areas, PRORUAL.
Access to midwives saves mothers
Health is one of Sweden’s biggest areas of co-operation in Nicaragua. For a long time, we have been supporting Nicaragua’s department of health (MINSA) to develop sustainable plans and administrative systems for the country’s health and medical care.
Sweden has been working actively to reduce maternal mortality. In cooperation with Karolinska Institutet, we have contributed to training 394 midwives. By July 2010, a total of 541 midwives will have been trained, which is one in every five midwives in Nicaragua. The project is being run by the Ministry of Health together with the national university, UNAN. The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education’s (RFSU) Mammakampen supports the training of midwives.
One important, though sensitive, area that Sweden is working with is sexual and reproductive health and rights. This is a central issue in the dialogue with Nicaragua and in support of the health sector and civil society.
Since the beginning of the 1980s, Sweden has been helping Nicaragua to build up its own competence within several areas through research. These include health, the environment, natural resources and technology. Post graduates from universities including UNAN have also been able to study at Swedish universities.