Tipitapa & Nicaragua
Tipitapa is a large, sprawling urban and rural community over 360 sq. miles, with an ever-growing population of over 150,000 residents, located along the Pan-American Highway, 12 miles from Managua and minutes from the Managua International Airport. During the last thirty years, most residents have settled here from other parts of Nicaragua due to war, natural disasters, and better economic opportunities. Although Tipitapa offers better job opportunities due to its proximity to Managua and boasts the largest free trade zone in Nicaragua— workers struggle daily with exploitative working conditions, and earn about $3 per day. New free trade zone factories continue to be built to employ unskilled workers—mostly young women.
After many years of neoliberal government policies that eliminated most public services across Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega’s reelection in 2007 saw the return of free public education and health care without cost to families. Some initiatives include ‘El Programa Amor’, a government-funded campaign to improve the livelihoods of Nicaraguan children and their basic conditions; 2009 will see the completion of the Sandinista Literacy Campaign, based on the Cuban model, “Yo Sí Puedo” (Yes, I can), which recently declared that Nicaragua is free of illiteracy; and “Hambre Cero” which gives impoverished mothers “tools for production” – a packet of farm animals and seeds to grow animal feed and basic grains – and trains families how to raise and breed their animals.
Although the current mayor of Tipitapa Cesar Vasquez is doing all he can to address his citizen’s needs, the current woes of the global economy along with serious budgetary constraints have created great challenges in meeting social development goals. Despite these limitations, the mayor and his staff are committed to providing better social services, and fully supports the work of Dos Pueblos to achieve better living conditions in Tipitapa.
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America and is approximately the size of New York State. It is often referred to by its people as ‘the land of lakes and volcanoes’, and has the largest freshwater lakes in Central America: Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua. These two lakes are joined by the Tipitapa River, which flows south into Lake Nicaragua.
Socio-economic conditions place Nicaragua as the poorest Central American country, and the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere, only after Haiti. According to UNICEF, 75% of Nicaraguans live below the poverty line. The unemployment rate in most parts of the country exceeds 70%. Cholera, typhoid, malaria, dengue, diarrhea, and respiratory diseases are of epidemic proportions. Less than 1/3 of children have access to potable water and 40% to basic sanitation. The diet of over 70% of Nicaraguans does not provide even 50% of nutritional needs—2/3 of children lack iron and Vitamin A and 40% are anemic. It is difficult to calculate infant mortality rates in Nicaragua, since over 60% of births are not registered.