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El Salvador Update: Can you help?

November 13, 2009

The humanitarian situation in El Salvador is only getting more dangerous as the country faces food shortages:

About 10,000 people in El Salvador are in need of food aid after devastating floods washed away crops. Three days of national mourning are being held following the deaths of at least 140 people in the floods. Thousands are living in shelters as a result of the disaster and large parts of the country are without electricity and clean water… The torrential rains washed away crops across the region, leaving thousands of survivors to face the dangerous lack of a stable food supply.

As President Mauricio Funes pointed out though, this is not simply a natural disaster:

In a nationally broadcast address Sunday night, Funes said “the drama we are experiencing is the product of the precarious conditions in large swathes of the country due to the lack of buffer zones and risk prevention efforts, which have been demanded for years but were never made,” said Funes, referring to 20 years of government by the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA)…

Environmentalist Ángel Ibarra, president of the Unidad Ecológica Salvadoreña (Salvadoran Ecological Unit, or UNES), cited a World Bank study which estimates that 90 percent of the population lives in areas at high relative risk of death from two or more natural hazards. But Ibarra said the problem of natural disasters is magnified in the country because of the serious environmental deterioration on one hand, and the lack of policies to pull people out of poverty and social exclusion on the other.

Most of the victims of catastrophes like flooding and mudslides are poor people who live in shacks in dangerous areas along riverbanks or hillsides. He also told IPS that El Salvador lacks adequate disaster prevention and preparedness policies. “When these problems happen, it’s always as if it were the first time. We have a ‘picking up the dead’ policy. We only react after something happens.”

If you’re looking for a way to help, please consider donating to help a couple that is literally keeping people alive in Santa Maria. From my friend’s email:

Some friends of mine are currently living and working as volunteers in El Salvador, and have put their own projects on hold for a while to respond to the immediate needs of this disaster. Every day for the past week, they have been doing everything they can to raise money, buy food and water, and take their old pickup truck out to the community of Santa Maria to give everything they have to the community. They have been working tirelessly every day, but it is still not enough. No NGOs have come to this particular community to help the people. And right now there is no clean water. How long can a child with diarrhea survive without clean water?

Please go to this blog: Friends of Santa Maria. I encourage you to read Beth’s blog posts about her response to what she has encountered these past few days in the community of Santa Maria. Please scroll down to the bottom to the links Sam posted to learn about the floods, the government’s response, and photos and video and the aftermath.

Last, please give. Beth and Sam have run out of money, and literally every cent you can give would be spent on food and water for people who have been cut off. There is a link at the top of the page to donate, and I can promise you that my friends would be grateful for anything you could give.

Please consider giving to Beth and Sam’s work so that they can continue to support the Santa Maria community.

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