EL SALVADOR OVERVIEW
A Glimpse of Poverty in Rural El Salvador
In rural El Salvador, poverty means lacking. Rural areas lack...
- running water
- medical facilities
- sewage services
- good roads
Poverty in rural areas also means…
- low education levels
- low trades and skills
- low purchasing power
Most people survive by planting their own grains, like maize and beans. Fishermen, street vendors and farmers are the most common occupations. These are also the only trades to which children can aspire.
In Rural El Salvador
Geography & Climate
- El Salvador is the smallest Central American country and the only one without a coastline on the Caribbean Sea.
- Two parallel mountain ranges cross the country from east to west, with a central plateau between them.
- A narrow coastal belt borders the Pacific Ocean and extends about 190 miles.
- Known as the “Land of Volcanoes,” El Salvador experiences frequent and often destructive earthquakes and volcanic activity.
- Like other countries in Central America, El Salvador is also susceptible to hurricanes.
Nearly 40 percent of the people in El Salvador eke out a fragile living in the country’s rural areas. Among them are approximately 481,000 households with an average of four or five children each.
Impoverished rural Salvadorans live on what they are able to grow themselves, or on the meager wages they earn as agricultural day laborers. Such day labor on larger farms is only seasonal, and in the off seasons there are few options for work.
The uncertainty of rainfall from season to season makes rural life extremely tenuous. Too much rain is just as devastating to crops as not enough.
Children at Home
Typical homes in El Salvador’s rural areas are crudely constructed of mud and adobe bricks. They are reinforced by wood posts at the corners, and the roofs are usually made of straw or aluminum sheeting. Homes are small, usually no more than 400 square feet, and usually lack electricity, running water and sanitation facilities.
Issues and Concerns
- Many children are chronically malnourished.
- One-third of rural residents have no access to clean water and about 15 percent lack adequate sanitation facilities.
- Because of the lack of clean water and sanitation, children often suffer from such life-threatening illnesses as bacterial diarrhea and typhoid.
- Other common illnesses include dengue fever, pneumonia and respiratory illnesses.
Local Needs and Challenges
Extreme seasonal changes
An excessively dry season can damage crops, a major difficulty as most families depend on their small plots of corn, beans and vegetables for food during the year.
During rainy season, creeks and rivers overflow, making it impossible for children to cross and keeping them from attending school or church. Floods can also result in contamination of wells and rivers, where people get water for washing, cooking and even drinking.
The rainy season can cause serious damage, since most homes in rural areas are made of adobe.
Opportunities for children to attend school can be limited by long travel distances and the need for children to work on family farms or in other jobs to help meet basic needs.
Lack of adequate employment for adults causes some families to live apart as parents seek work in other countries.
Schools and Education
- Children in El Salvador’s rural areas have an extremely low education rate, typically completing fewer than four years of school.
- Poor rural schools are also overcrowded, with an average ratio of 45 students to one teacher.
- In many rural areas, there are no secondary schools.
- Nearly 20 percent of males and 25 percent of females age 15 and older in El Salvador can’t read or write.
Compassion El Salvador works to ensure that every registered child is able to attend elementary school, and it provides additional support, including tutoring, at the child development centers.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
Child development centers provide registered children with a place to learn, grow and study.
Children whose families have never been able to offer them clean water, health care or an education now have access to these necessities.
Compassion-assisted children attend health classes, tutoring sessions and Bible studies at the center. They also spend time writing to and praying for their sponsors.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local churches Compassion is bringing help and hope to children in need in El Salvador, providing them with…
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- computer training and vocational training such as shoemaking, sports, baking and music
- medicine to treat common illnesses like parasites, stomach infections and diarrhea
- support for special health cases that require further treatment, including transportation, medicine, therapy and follow-up visits