food safety in el salvadorThe ability to have access to safe and nutritious food is essential to maintaining life and good health. Unsafe food contains harmful parasites, viruses and bacteria that can lead to more than 200 diseases, from diarrhea to forms of cancer. Approximately 600 million people become ill after consuming contaminated food each year, which results in 420,000 deaths and the loss of thirty-three million healthy life hours. Food safety and nutrition are linked to cycles of health. Unsafe food causes disease and malnutrition, especially with at-risk groups.

Education on Food Safety in El Salvador

Women in El Salvador are participating in an educational program supported by the World Health Organization that teaches safe hygiene practices and food safety. The WHO works in collaboration with El Salvador’s government and other United Nations partner organizations like the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), UNICEF, UNWomen, and the World Food Program (WFP). The program aims to address foodborne illnesses and poor nutrition by educating local women who then pass on their knowledge to other women in the community.

In preparation for the village workshops, there are two ‘train the trainers’ workshops held to train health promoters who can then go on to educate women in other villages. The women teach others how to host their own educational workshops. Women are chosen as leaders since they play a vital role in food preparation and safety.

Teaching Subsistence Farming

In El Salvador 1 in 10 people live on less than $2 U.S. a day, which makes it hard to buy food.  A large sector of the population lacks the proper education about nutrition needed to grow food themselves. This program provides women with education about farming, specifically focusing on five keys to growing safer fruits and vegetables.

  1. Practice good personal hygiene. Good hygiene begins in the home with a clean body, face, and clothes. People must maintain cleanliness to curb the spread of pathogens and prevent food contamination. A toilet or latrine must be used for proper sanitation.
  2. Protect fields from animal fecal contamination. In areas where animals live in close proximity to humans and fields, it is imperative to control the risk of exposure to fecal matter. Exposure to animal feces is correlated with diarrhea, soil-transmitted helminth infection, trachoma, environmental enteric dysfunction and growth faltering.
  3. Use treated fecal waste. Waste may be reused as a fertilizer for agriculture, gardening or horticultural, but must be safely handled, treated, stored and utilized.
  4. Evaluate and manage risks from irrigation water. Be aware of all risks of microbial contamination at all water sources and protect water from fecal matter.
  5. Keep harvest and storage equipment clean and dry. Wash harvest equipment with clean water and store away from animals and children. Remove all visible dirt and debris from all products.

Results

After participating in the program, the women involved began to change their lifestyles and safety habits. Women use mesh to protect fields from contamination from animals and can grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables while practicing food safety. Foodborne illnesses decreased in households where safety measures were practiced. Families that utilized the five keys at home reduced their chances of getting diarrhea by 60% compared to families in communities where these hygiene and safety measures were not applied. Families that began to practice food safety also had a more diversified crop production that contributes to improved nutrition.

 

Many people in El Salvador live on less than $2 U.S. a day and education on nutrition needed to grow food independently is sometimes lacking. In order to address these issues, The WHO, and other organizations, partnered with El Salvador’s government to host workshops on food safety and hygiene practices. While food safety remains an important issue in El Salvador, the workshops positively impacted food safety in the country by decreasing foodborne illnesses in households that applied the safety measures.

– Anna Brewer
Photo: Flickr

 

gender equality in el salvadorIn a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, El Salvador is cited as having one of the top rates of violence in the region, with a disproportionate amount of violence aimed at women and girls. Since many girls begin working at a young age, they are vulnerable to abuse and are often forced to leave school to provide for their families. However, in recent years, organizations such as the Concertación de Mujeres Suchitotos and the Salvadoran Institute for the Advancement of Women have established a presence in fighting for gender equality in El Salvador, particularly the freedom from violence and economic equality.

Concertación de Mujeres Suchitotos

Established in 2008 in relation to the nonprofit organization Mary’s Pence, the Concertación de Mujeres Suchitotos works within the Salvadoran community to fight for gender equality, support women in pursuing financial independence and teach about sexual and reproductive rights. Now with over 300 members and 576 loans given to women in the community to begin their own small businesses, the organization boasts many successful women-owned businesses in agriculture, food service and the clothing industry.

In 2016, the Concertación de Mujeres Suchitotos held an assembly to share their growing knowledge of economic solidarity with other women. Along with members in El Salvador, women from Nicaragua and Honduras attended the event, creating a total of about 120 women. The event allowed attendees to discuss their business strategies with other women in similar business ventures and brainstorm ways to improve. By giving the women a space for discourse, the Concertación de Mujeres Suchitotos further empowered El Salvadoran women to connect with each other.

However, the women in El Salvador are still struggling with violence and freedom. Gangs threatened women who owned businesses, demanding money in exchange for leaving the women and their businesses alone. Teen pregnancy continues to run high, something this organization hopes to combat through open discussions about sexual and reproductive health. Through economic independence and transparent education, the Concertación de Mujeres Suchitotos is fighting for the rights of Salvadoran women.

Salvadoran Institute for the Advancement of Women

This agency was created to uphold the measures in the Domestic Violence Act and National Plan to Prevent and Deal with Domestic Violence, passed by the Salvadoran Secretariat of Social Inclusion in response to the high levels of domestic violence in the country. By recognizing domestic violence as a government issue, women suffering from violence in El Salvador were more likely to speak up and fight for their rights.

Like the Concertación de Mujeres Suchitotos, the agency implements programs to encourage women’s education in business along with protecting those suffering from domestic violence. Although the government recognizes the gender disparity in business and economics, inherent sexism in communities challenges the progress of women in El Salvador. For example, the government can implement a program encouraging women into intellectual work, but the men working there have a preexisting bias of prioritizing and hiring men for such positions.

However, progress is being made. The Salvadoran Institute for the Advancement of Women recently provided over 100 hygiene kits of feminine products and clothes to women who were struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The mission of the agency is to support women in exercising their rights as citizens and bring the country closer to true gender equality; giving women the tools to be hygienic and safe is a start.

Seven in ten women in El Salvador are affected by some form of violence throughout their lives. The Concertación de Mujeres Suchitotos and the Salvadoran Institute for the Advancement of Women are taking a stand against domestic violence, arguing Salvadoran women have a right to live a violence-free life. Although slow, these organizations are seeing progress through their programs and fight tirelessly for gender equality in El Salvador.

– Kiyomi Kishaba
Photo: Wikimedia

Women-Owned BusinessesNonprofit organization Mary’s Pence is working towards a world of empowered women making changes in their communities. To get there, Mary’s Pence partners with grassroots organizations in Canada, the U.S. and Central America to provide funding and development programs for women-owned businesses.

Executive director Katherine Wojtan believes Mary’s Pence is different from other nonprofits because the organization not only cares for the individual women, but also oversees the sustainment of their small businesses. Mary’s Pence also values the idea of “accompaniment,” explained by Wojtan as utilizing the abilities of everyone to accomplish a long-term shared vision. This concept is applied to the organization’s execution of both the programs in the states and in Central America, focusing on improving the whole rather than the individual.

ESPERA

The program in Central America called ESPERA, or Economical Systems Providing Equitable Resources for All, was created almost 12 years ago. “Espera” is the Spanish word for hope, a fitting name for the life-changing program working with women in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

“This is very intentional, it is not about making individual women rich, but about ensuring all women have access to resources and skills to make their way in the world and earn what they need for a good life,” Wojtan said.

ESPERA aids women who were victims of domestic or gang violence or are single mothers struggling to make ends meet. By giving grants to grassroots organizations in struggling communities, Mary’s Pence creates community-lending pools which women can take loans from to start local women-owned businesses that generate income. To ensure success, the staff of Mary’s Pence teach the community loan management and help elect leaders to track the lending.

Gilda Larios, ESPERA team lead, grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico and worked with Central American refugees before starting work with Mary’s Pence. ESPERA funding gives back to the whole community, not just the women receiving aid. Instead of focusing on building credit, women realize the importance of circulating money and products.

“Their confidence grew – first they asked for a very small loan, and over time they asked for larger loans and grew their businesses,” Larios told The Borgen Project. “With their strength, they are role models for new leadership in the community.”

ESPERA and COVID-19

ESPERA has helped develop many small women-owned businesses that create jobs for their communities and generate income for struggling women. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic put many of these businesses at risk as workers feared for their lives, but the ESPERA team responded fast, changing their focus from long-term development to responding immediately to the needs of the women.

As some women panicked about their businesses and the effects of the pandemic, the ESPERA team responded with a 12-week emotional wellness series, delivered via WhatsApp, and supported stores so they could keep reasonable prices for the communities. For women in the midst of paying back loans to the community-lending pool, their status is put on hold until they have the income to continue their payment.

Despite the support network ESPERA provides, the pandemic revealed some gaps in the system. It was challenging to ensure the safety of women experiencing domestic violence. The lack of access to phones and the internet made communication between communities and ESPERA leaders challenging. However, this time of crisis also brought the communities closer and proved the importance of working together through local businesses.

In her interview with The Borgen Project, Larios told of a woman named Aminta, who is in the ESPERA program in San Salvador, El Salvador. She transitioned from working in a “maquila,” or factory, to starting her own business sewing uniforms for local sports teams. During COVID-19, she also began sewing masks to help keep her community healthy. Success stories of women-owned businesses like this one propel communities into further financial security and empower other women to do the same.

Confidence and Creating Futures

Above all, ESPERA and Mary’s Pence hope to give women confidence in their own abilities to create the future they want for themselves and for their families. For Larios, the most rewarding part of working with ESPERA women is the “feeling of satisfaction and joy to see them embrace their possibilities and capacities that before they thought they didn’t have.”

Through ESPERA and their role in the creation of women-owned businesses, Mary’s Pence continues to change women’s lives by showing them the power they already had within themselves.

– Kiyomi Kishaba
Photo: Google Images

Facts About Poverty in El Salvador
El Salvador is the smallest country located in the Southern part of Central America. With a population of almost 6.5 million people, the country has the largest population density for its size in the region. The country is famous for its exports, primarily coffee and sugar, which are ideal crops for a tropical climate. The gorgeous weather also makes it an alluring vacation spot and draws tourists seeking sweeping palm trees, breathtaking views and glistening beaches from across the globe. However, just outside the paradise of the resorts is a much different world. Here are five facts about poverty in El Salvador.

5 Facts About Poverty in El Salvador

  1. The poverty rate was improving. From 2007 to 2017, El Salvador experienced some economic progress, with their poverty rate dropping from 39% to 29%. However, it will be a challenge for the country to maintain those numbers with the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic having an impact on the economy and the exports it relies on.
  2. The impoverished often live in overcrowded areas. Poorer neighborhoods, referred to as slums, tend to be located in undesirable areas that have a landscape more susceptible to danger. Many families live in small, overcrowded quarters, which can pose a major public health risk. Houses are usually built very close to each other and are sometimes adjoined in order to share materials. For many, the only choice for housing is makeshift structures that do not protect from the elements and cannot withstand the force of natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes or even heavy rainfall. These communities often lack basic services such as electricity, plumbing and sanitation sewer plants. This makes for unsanitary conditions and very limited access to clean water.
  3.  Schools often have a lot of empty desks. The country struggles to maintain a sufficient education system, which can largely be attributed to a high rate of dropout. Of all the children nationwide, around 34% do not attend the elementary grade levels. Furthermore, more than 60% of children do not finish high school. As a result, around 20% of the population above the age of ten are illiterate. The education deficit perpetuates the cycle of unskilled laborers joining the workforce as minors, which hinders the economy’s growth.
  4. Good job opportunities are not widely available. Much of the country’s poor population work in the manufacturing, agriculture and tourism industries. These jobs traditionally do not pay a living wage, have unsafe conditions and require long hours due to flimsy work laws and standards that are relatively unregulated by the government. Child labor is prevalent within in poorer communities, with a staggering 1.8 million children currently employed. The lack of a welfare program and the government’s failure to enforce child labor laws enable this practice. For many families living below the poverty line, this is the only way they can afford to get by.
  5.  Communities are plagued with violence and crime. El Salvador has one of the highest crime rates worldwide, directly endangering many of its citizens. Most of the crime committed is gang-related and, with the involvement of an estimated 60,000 members, gangs run rampant in practically every community. Feeling they have no other option than to flee, those vulnerable to gang activity migrate to other countries in order to find refuge and employment in a safer area. One of the gangs’ main targets is business owners, as they look to get a cut of their revenue. The loss of income severely impacts job creation and business survival.

These five facts about poverty in El Salvador are grim, but also solvable. Fortunately, Habitat for Humanity, an organization that strives to improve living conditions for the impoverished, has committed to helping. The organization has built homes for around 25,000 Salvadorans. To support the community, the volunteers also build public structures such as new schools, health centers, business suites and much more. In addition, the volunteers teach citizens job skills, money management and disaster preparation in order to give them the tools needed thrive. With continued relief efforts by humanitarian organizations, a better future can be created for current generations and generations to come.

 Samantha Decker
Photo: Flickr

homelessness in El Salvador
In 2001, a major earthquake struck El Salvador leaving many helpless and on the streets. El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America despite having a dense population of 6 million people. Now, homelessness in El Salvador is at an all-time high. Currently, over 40% of the population live in run-down homes with dirt for floors. This roughly translates to upwards of 2 million people living in disheveled and decrepit homes. Luckily, there are organizations working towards rebuilding El Salvador.

3 Organizations Combatting Homelessness in El Salvador

  1. Habitat for Humanity: Through two large-scale community projects, Habitat for Humanity has helped homelessness in El Salvador by building homes and making improvements to current houses. Juntos Construyendo mi Casa (Building my House Together), is a project that primarily focuses on constructing new homes for those who are currently in inadequate living situations. It also helps to improve existing homes by replacing dirt floors with tile or wooden flooring. Its second project, Construyendo Empoderamiento con Mujeres (Building Empowerment with Women), works on building new homes while also teaching women about their rights. This project teaches women to perform in jobs typical for males, thus providing career opportunities as well. Around 97,760 Salvadorans have received help through Habitat for Humanity’s programs.
  2. New Story Charity: In 2018, New Story Charity printed its first 3D house in Austin, Texas in under 24 hours. New Story partnered with the robotics construction company, ICON. Together, they began working to expand this construction to countries that need it most, such as El Salvador. Currently, a 3D house costs around $10,000, but New Story Charity’s goal is to reduce that price to $4,000. New Story is raising $1 million to be able to begin the construction of more homes. Though the introduction of 3D homes is new, New Story Charity has constructed over 850 non-3D homes in Haiti, El Salvador, Mexico and Bolivia. 3D homes in Tabasco, Mexico have already created an entire community of these low-cost homes. In the upcoming years, New Story Charity will begin bringing 3D homes to El Salvador. Through the development of 3D homes, homelessness in El Salvador could drastically reduce.
  3. La Carpa: Tim Ross and Erica Olson founded La Carpa, meaning “The Tent,” in the summer of 2018. Though being a Christian based organization, Ross welcomes any religious backgrounds. La Carpa provides food for many of the homeless in the community. It began with distributing coffee, food and water, but is now expanding to creating hospitality houses with the hopes of building a better and closer community. On average, 30 people visit La Carpa daily to receive coffee and a meal. La Carpa aims at not only provide food and housing to the most vulnerable but also friendship and a sense of belonging.

Though El Salvador faced great destruction in the past, it is working towards rebuilding. Through organizations like Habitat for Humanity, New Story Charity and La Carpa, homelessness in El Salvador is reducing and many of the displaced are moving off the streets and into homes.

– Erin Henderson 
Photo: Flickr

Tackling Poverty AlleviationDespite over 700 million people living in extreme poverty, poverty alleviation strategies recently reduced those rates. Poverty is multidimensional, meaning there are more aspects that one should consider than low income and resource shortages. Poverty includes hunger, malnutrition, violence, lack of human rights and little to no health care. According to Our World in Data, the fast rate in economic growth and political support for improved living standards have improved the state of poverty alleviation in various countries. Socio-economic advancement stems from improved access to opportunities where the four common areas of focus are food, education, employment and security. Here are three parts of the world tackling poverty alleviation.

China

China has made considerable progress in tackling poverty alleviation by bringing citizens out of traditional rural lifestyles. In 2018, around 41 percent of China’s rural population was living in impoverished countrysides. In 2013, China set policies to promote socio-economic development. By registering individuals into a database, China implemented rapid strategies and programs to benefit the entire nation. Meanwhile, Beijing launched an anti-poverty campaign to bring these citizens into more urban locations.

Committing to development with infrastructure and improving tourism, the government helped villagers tremendously. The government strengthened financial support by providing proper funding for health, education, industrial development and agricultural modernization and better access to the internet. Specifically, the 2007 health reform addressed poverty alleviation by providing health care centers for men and women and improving the quality of these centers.

Additionally, the Guizhou Province gave millions of dollars to poor students in 2015 to provide meals to children during the day. Feeding the children increases confidence and improves performance in the classroom. China also built schools in rural and mountain areas to accommodate male and female students. Educating the young means future generations should be able to rise out of poverty as well.

Poverty alleviation also occurs from supporting livestock and crop production in regard to trade partners. Improving farming practices also decreases pollution throughout the country. The Ministry of Agriculture has fully invested in increasing sustainability within agricultural and technological development.

Africa

Government resources in Africa have been vital to the 13 percent poverty alleviation from 1990 to 2015. To combat corruption, Uganda created an anti-corruption action plan through the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity. Tanzania even followed these steps with a National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan. Other programs directed toward social welfare have also contributed to economic growth. By providing conditional cash-transfers, African citizens have more financial security. Promoting governmental transparency through the 2003 Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) has protected citizens from violence at a political level.

Further, education for youngsters, with a target for girls and women, have slowed economic poverty; gender inequalities have traditionally set back girls and women in society. The Africa Educational Trust (AET) program focuses on self-empowerment and providing education for all, and is breaking the glass ceiling for African women. Improving inclusivity within communities by removing these women and girls from traditional societal roles inevitably protects from violence. Not only do women get the opportunity to progress in society, but fertility and child mortality rates decline through improved prenatal nutrition.

Finally, agricultural investments through governmental incentives have enhanced food production. South Africa’s Expanded Public Works Program (EPWP) launched in 2004 with the aim of expanding job and industrialization practices. Access to clean water through sanitation reforms has drastically improved health status throughout the continent. In Nigeria, the Third National Urban Water Sector Reform Project tackles the water-scarcity issue by investing in water treatment, disease prevention and enhanced water distribution strategies.

El Salvador

El Salvador stands out as one of the more impoverished countries in Latin America. However, in 2013, the poverty rate dropped from 40 percent to 28.9 percent. The government transformed the national debt by addressing historical conflicts that damaged the economy. Tensions between the government and gang warfare affected 16 percent of the country’s annual GDP. Addressing gang violence through the Youth Employability and Opportunities initiative gives children a future involving better education without the pressure of joining a gang to survive.

The Civil War from 1980-1992 also put an enormous strain on the country’s safety. The Safe El Salvador plan addresses poverty alleviation by strengthening community bonds.

Additionally, health care and job investments have aided the country’s endeavors of poverty alleviation. The Strengthening Public Health Care System project invested in health services that have declined mortality rates and have improved disease prevention. Further, the El Salvador government partnered with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in 2014 to focus on the youth by providing infrastructure and skills to stabilize the economy.

The Social Protection Universal System in 2014 assisted in the protection of the country’s citizens regarding human rights. Another danger to the country is natural disasters, which take a massive toll on the environment and safety of the large population. The government created the El Salvador Disaster Risk Management program to prepare for emergencies such as earthquakes and tropical storms, but it also addressed the recovery process after they hit.

Despite slower progress in some regions of the world, these three parts of the world are continuing to make tackling poverty alleviation a main focus. Investing in the wellbeing of people is a common practice in maintaining human dignity and saving countless lives every day. By establishing attainable goals and understanding the nature of poverty, countries can make significant changes for the future of the globe.

Sydney Stokes
Photo: Pixabay

El Salvador is a small country in Central America that, for several years, has been going through an economic crisis. Due to the persistent levels of gang violence and extreme levels of poverty, it has been challenging for El Salvador to overcome its economic instability. Although economic freedom is insecure, attempts have been made to aid the fight against violence and poverty.

Background

In the 1980s, El Salvador was in the midst of a civil war, and once they prevailed, they set out to become a democracy. The country was praised for its seamless transition into a neoliberal order. However, the levels of gang violence began to rise. Additionally, the government’s lack of acknowledgment was feeding into the political silence.

Gang violence in El Salvador is still a predominant problem because it has led to national security issues. El Salvador currently holds the title for the highest murder and violence rate against children under the age of 19. The NCG, or the National Crisis Group, believes that in order to effectively mitigate these issues, specific police, justice reforms and legal frameworks for rehabilitating former gang members are key for a pacification process.

Gang Violence and Poverty

The severe incline in gang violence has a direct impact on the economic crisis in El Salvador. Nearly 40 percent of the population lives in poverty as both a result of and companion to gang violence. Because of gang violence, the country’s government spends a massive amount of money to relocate individuals to communities across the United States. Moreover, gang violence started with poverty. Poverty in El Salvador was already significant before gang violence became a norm. Additionally, poverty actually fed the rate of gang violence because of the lack of a suitable education system. This led children and teens to grow up on the streets. Gangs would later come full circle and feed into the rising poverty rates.

7 Funds

Amidst all of this political and economic turmoil, David Beckham started a fund to aid those in need in El Salvador. This project is known as the “7 funds.” Beckham started this project by teaming up with UNICEF. Moreover, the focus of the project is to fight violence so that children can grow up free from fear and realize their potential in El Salvador. Furthermore, the 7 funds set up a hotline for children who are in danger or affected by violence.

This project also trains teachers to support children who may be at risk. They have set up committees that help keep schools safe. 7 funds encourage students, teachers and parents to work together and work with the authorities to make a safe place for children to play sports.

Looking Forward

El Salvador has certainly seen better days and will likely see them again. With the work done by David Beckham and UNICEF, the economy is taking a turn for the better. Poverty rates are still high and so is gang violence. However, the rates in childhood violence have gone down, delivering a promising future for prospective generations in El Salvador.

Sarah Mobarak
Photo: Flickr
El Salvador Economic Crisis
El Salvador is a small country in Central America that has been experiencing an economic crisis for several years. The root of the El Salvador economic crisis is the persistent levels of gang violence and extreme levels of poverty. In the face of the country’s instability, some have made attempts to aid the fight against violence and poverty.

Perpetual Violence

During the 1980s, El Salvador was in the heart of a civil war; once the nation prevailed, the government and the people set out to become a democracy. The country received praise for its smooth transition into democracy, however, in recent years the levels of gang violence have begun to rise. The issue has persisted for about 15 years where there has been minimal acknowledgment, thus feeding political silence and a lack of reform.

The perpetual violence in El Salvador is a predominant problem. The nation currently holds the title for the highest rates of murder and violence against children under the age of 19. The National Crisis Group (NCG) believes that a proper response to this issue includes “specific police and justice reforms, as well as a legal framework for rehabilitating former gang members.” Many believe that such steps essential towards the pacification of violence, which will ultimately improve El Salvador’s economic crisis.

Gang Activity

The severe incline in gang violence has directly impacted the El Salvador economic crisis. Estimates determined that nearly 40 percent of the population lives in poverty because of various factors involved with gang violence. The nation’s government has spent a massive amount of money to relocate individuals to communities across the United States in an attempt to curb violence. However, extreme poverty initiated gang violence in El Salvador. Extreme poverty fuels high levels of violence because of the lack of a sustainable educational system, therefore resulting in students eventually ending up on the streets. Gang members’ recruitment of young individuals to support violent activities with a promise of financial stability preserves this cycle.

The 7 Fund

In the face of the El Salvador economic crisis, former professional soccer player David Beckham started a fund to diminish the El Salvador economic crisis. Beckham started the project, known as the 7 Fund, which aims to provide various support to those in need, specifically in Indonesia, Nepal, Uganda and El Salvador.

Launching the project with UNICEF, Beckham focuses on the prevalent violence throughout El Salvador. The former soccer star hopes the “children can grow up free from fear and realize their potential.” One way the 7 Fund tackles this goal is through a hotline for children who are in danger or experience violence. 7 Fund also provides resources for teachers in the form of training programs to develop the skills needed to support the at-risk children. Further, the project has implemented various committees to improve the El Salvador economic crisis by keeping schools safe. Specifically, students, teachers, parents and even authorities provide a space for children to play sports, which allows the students to feel comfortable and safe.

El Salvador has certainly seen better days, but it is likely the nation will see a positive culture again. With David Beckham and UNICEF’s work, the economy has already begun improving. While poverty rates and gang violence are still high, child violence rates have gone down. Through initiatives such as 7 Fund, the El Salvador economic crisis can improve with time.

Sarah Mobarak
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in El Salvador
Both water and sanitation are crucial to survival and a decent life. The water crisis has affected many countries and millions of people, but El Salvador, home to 6.1 million people, is dangerously close to running out of water. El Salvador’s abundant water resources are also grossly polluted, with only 10 percent of surface water safe to drink. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in El Salvador.

10 Facts About Sanitation in El Salvador

  1. Environmental degradation is a constant threat to the quality of water. El Salvador is prone to natural disasters like hurricanes and droughts, simply because of its geological location. But deforestation and animal migration also impact water sources, leaving the poorest inhabitants with contaminated water.
  2. The Cérron Grande is El Salvador’s largest body of freshwater and is one of the most contaminated in all of Central America. An investigation conducted by the Salvadoran Association of Human Aid Pro-Vida showed high levels of heavy metals, banned insecticides, cyanide and toxic algae. In addition, more than 8.5 million pounds of feces are deposited into the Cérron. This medley of contagions causes algal blooms and eutrophication. The National Service of Territorial Studies reports that only 20 percent of national rivers are safe to drink from.
  3. Residents fiercely oppose the privatization of water. In recent years, the government has attempted to implement a water tax, further limiting access to water. Academic and religious institutions, environmental organizations and community forums push legislatures to protect their water sources. The leftist political party Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front also fights for the protection of water rights and equitable distribution.
  4. Historically, water management is controlled by big businesses. Examples are industrial plantations, luxury housing developments and bottling companies. In fact, a subsidiary of ABInBev called La Constancia fills thousands of Coca Cola cartons a day.  Situated on top of a major aquifer in Nejapa, over a decade of industrial waste has severely polluted the San Antonio water source. 30,000 residents rely on San Antonio for drinking, hygiene and cooking.
  5. Mining heavy metals had a drastic consequence. In 2010, it was estimated 12 million ounces of gold and 78 million ounces of silver were available to mine. According to the International Ecological Engineering Society, 950 tons of cyanide and roughly 22 million liters of water are required daily for extraction. Protesters say “No to mining, yes to life,”  demanding a ban on mining due to the contaminate risks to the waterbeds and the industrial use of such large quantities of water. In 2017, El Salvador banned mining, but the pollution left behind permanently tainted the quality of water.
  6. Experts predict El Salvador will be uninhabitable in 80 years. The water crisis continues to worsen for low-income and extremely poor households. The downward environmental trajectory in tandem with growing economic instability leads to young Salvadorans joining gangs to gain access to water. There are an estimated 60,000 gang members in El Salvador and water sources are often located between combating territories. Access to water is extremely controlled and many women and children risk their lives to collect it.
  7. Regulating water through legislation is the first defense against distribution inequality. The General Water Law, first introduced in 2006, defines, and therefore protects, access to water as a human right. It also promotes universal access to water sources. Most importantly, it implements community consultation in national decision-making regarding water and sanitation.
  8. Millennium Challenge Corp. committed to a 5-year investment compact with El Salvador in the amount of USD $449.6 million. The Water and Sanitation Sub-Activity was created to target the poorest parts of the Northern Zone and increase access to regulated water and sanitation systems. The Sub-Activity also provided technical assistance for maintenance and system sustainability which consequently lead to employment opportunities. Through the MCC, Compact Water and Sanitation Sub-Activity installed new or upgraded pre-existing pipelines in more than 7,500 homes.
  9. Ride4Water dedicates bike riding to raising money for clean water. Founder of Ride4Water Ryan Delameter uses the proceeds gained from long-distance riding to improve the access and quality of water. Ride4Water has installed Hollow Fiber Membrane Filtration Systems across three regions and 60 homes. The filtration system traps any harmful bacteria and microorganisms contaminating the water.
  10. Companion Community Development Alternatives, a non-profit organization dedicated to making potable water distribution a reality, uses solar power to bring clean water to villages. The solar retrofit was completed in 2019 and has reduced bills, operation and maintenance of water systems by $250-300 per month, lowering the overall expenses for families. By utilizing the sun, water is pumped 300 meters (~984 feet) from a spring and stored in a water tower. Chlorinated water is then distributed directly into homes. These solar-powered water systems belong to the people and can never be privatized.

Sanitation and water accessibility are often connected issues. In El Salvador, water is disappearing, compromising sanitation and health. These 10 facts about sanitation in El Salvador bring awareness to this very serious issue. With continued efforts by non-profits and other humanitarian organizations, however, water access and sanitation in El Salvador will hopefully improve.

– Marissa Taylor
Photo: Flickr

What is the Northern Triangle?
If one ever wondered, “What is the Northern Triangle?” it is a region comprised of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. This particular region experiences growing migration due to chronic violence, government corruption and economic setbacks. Approximately 265,000 people have migrated annually in recent years, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, and estimates determined that this number would double in 2019. The Northern Triangle is one of the poorest regions in the Western Hemisphere, with Honduras’, El Salvador’s and Guatemala’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita ranking at the bottom among Latin American countries. One can see these economic hardships as a direct consequence of decades of war and violence. Transnational gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Eighteenth Street Gang (M-18) plague the Northern Triangle with criminal activity and corruption. In addition to these factors, agriculture setbacks due to unpredictable weather contribute to this large migration.

The Northern Triangle’s Plans

With increasing migration from the area, the Northern Triangle is cracking down on existing issues. To address economic instability, the region implemented the Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity which increased production and ensured public safety. Even though El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras mostly fund the plan, the Northern Triangle has experienced limited economic growth since its implementation in 2014.

When considering the question, “What is the Northern Triangle?” it is impossible not to mention corruption. To address growing corruption, each nation took a different route depending on what each one required. Officials addressed corruption quickly due to its setbacks on the economy. El Salvador caught and charged three previous presidents for embezzlement. Officials also created a plan to implement an international anti-corruption panel. In contrast, Guatemala appealed to the United Nations for assistance in establishing a group dedicated to prosecuting criminal groups. Together, they established the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) which has lowered Guatemala’s homicide rate immensely. Meanwhile, Honduras set up a corruption-fighting committee and implemented various sweeping reforms in 2016.

The Future of the Northern Triangle

Since many migrants are seeking asylum in the United States, recent U.S. administrations have varied widely as far as how to approach this challenge. Under the current Trump presidency, the administration decided to increase border security. President Trump cut down on America’s foreign for Central America and is holding back on funding until the Northern Triangle fully addresses this migration issue. The number of refugees and migrants will continue to increase until governments implement policies that reduce corruption and insecurity. Without intervention and aid, the Northern Triangle will make little progress in solving the root cause of violence, fraud and poverty within its countries.

Srihita Adabala
Photo: Wikimedia Commons