Nicaragua's Rural People

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The most vulnerable people in rural areas include the families of small-scale farmers and landless farm workers, and families that combine both agricultural and other income-generating activities on the farm.

Households headed by women, young people under 15 years of age, and indigenous people are among the poorest and most disadvantaged groups in rural Nicaragua. About 17% of rural households are managed by women, but only 15% of women hold title to land under their own names, and they receive only 11% of loans.

Most families live on marginal land, where water is scarce. Still, 80% of the rural poor depend upon agriculture for their livelihood, causing a severe strain on the fragile environment. Because of limited employment opportunities and inadequate infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity supplies, the incomes and productivity of poor rural people remain at low levels. In 2001, only one out of five extremely poor rural households had access to electricity.

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Poor people in rural areas face many constraints, including physical isolation, fragile ecosystems, difficult access to land and other natural resources, low productivity of soils, obstacles to market access and lack of public services such as education and health and legal services. Approximately 40% of the population has no access to health services, with the remaining 60% covered by low-quality services. A third of the population still has no access to sustainable sources of drinking water in 2007, a figure that raises to 53% in rural areas.