El Salvador is currently suffering from a severe water crisis. The causes are various. Over the past several years, climate change has produced severe weather phenomena resulting in both, flooding and prolonged drought. There are more immediate causes as well, including deforestation, the destruction of soils through inappropriate agricultural practices, pollution of freshwater resources and the over exploitation of key aquifers. The root of the problem has to do with the management of water and the lack of good governance in the water sector due to inadequate policies, programs, practices and effective institutional structures.
This situation has led to chaos, scarcity and hunger for small producers, especially women working in the agricultural sector. During the last several years, record breaking temperatures have been registered and flooding or prolonged droughts have destroyed agricultural crops. Planning for future crops has become riskier and traditional livelihoods are being threatened. In the meantime, Salvadorans are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of good water management for the future viability of their country and for the generations to come. Water is now seen as a strategic resource, essential for life and for sustainable development. In that regard, it is considered a basic human right and a life or death issue.
According to the United Nations, El Salvador has the most devastated natural environment in the western hemisphere, after Haiti, with 93% of its surface waters polluted by toxic chemicals, heavy metals and waste matter. And the Latin American Water Tribunal reported recently that El Salvador is on the verge of a severe water crisis, in terms of quantity, quality and availability. With a population density of almost 300 inhabitants per square kilometer (the highest in the western hemisphere), the environmental situation of El Salvador is likely to worsen in the years to come if efforts to attain legislation for more effective integral management of water resources is not forthcoming.
The SHARE FOUNDATION´s campaign, “Water is Life: Defending the Right to Water and Sanitation in El Salvador”, is an effort to educate, build awareness and empower community participation in the ongoing struggle in El Salvador to resolve a water crisis that threatens the future of the nation and its people. The specific policy goals of the campaign include:
- Approval by the Legislative Assembly of a constitutional reform recognizing water as a basic human right, and
- Approval by the Legislative Assembly of a General Water Law establishing adequate policies, programs, practices and institutional structures capable of assuring good governance with equitable, efficient and sustainable water and sanitation management
- Accompany organized communities, especially with woman, in the struggle for water
Share has decided to launch a campaign and support the struggle that many communities in El Salvador are suffering involving the lack of water. We wish to create a fund that will support 210 families from El Bajo Lempa in the department of Usulutan. This fund will buy grains and food to help them in a short term plan with their current crisis, but will also give an initiative to expand the campaign and support an ongoing demand to establish a general water law in El Salvador.