Nicaragua is the poorest Spanish speaking country in the world. It is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and the country has a population of 6.1 million. According to the World Bank in 2014, 30% of people were living in poverty, earning $2.50 a day or less, which is an improvement down from 43% back in 2009. Extreme poverty is defined as $1.20 per day or less, and 8% of the population is estimated to live in extreme poverty.
The communities in which ORPHANetwork works are the poorest of the poor; many are former refugee villages, some are located on the outskirts of garbage dumps and many are in ultra-rural areas.
Outside of material poverty, children in Nicaragua most typically suffer from a lack of access to education, health care, medicine, nourishment, representation, and justice. Abject poverty leads to physical and sexual abuse, which is rampant and most severe among poor children. It is conservatively estimated that over 30% of girls are abused by the time they turn 18. Abandoned children are the most vulnerable. Additionally, 1 in 3 Nicaraguan women have their first baby by the time they are 18, and the number of 10 to 14-year-olds having babies rose 10% between 2006 and 2016. This starts the downward cycle of poverty.