The SHARE Blog

San Simon: Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change Adaptability

November 4, 2011

In the past two years, El Salvador has been hit by five extreme climate events: Tropical Storm Ida in 2009, Hurricanes Agatha, Alex and Matthew in 2010, and Tropical Depression 12E in 2011.  For communities and leaders in El Salvador, climate change is not up for debate – it is already taking a devastating toll on crops, infrastructure and human life. 

Watch a video about sustainable agriculture and climate change adaptability in San Simon here! 

As the effects of climate change become increasingly pronounced, it is the populations of countries like El Salvador that are being hit first and hit hardest. Unpredictable and increasingly extreme weather patterns are threatening the immediate food security and long-term struggle to overcome poverty of vulnerable communities throughout El Salvador. With this in mind, SHARE began to work with REDES in 2009, after Tropical Storm Ida, to work towards reducing risk in future disasters. Read More »

Puerto Nuevo: Communities Along the Coast Begin to Rebuild

October 27, 2011

On the levee, overlooking the Lempa River bank in Puerto Nuevo. This area was completely covered with water as theriver breached the levee and flooded the community.

Puerto Nuevo is the second to last community in Tecoluca before land ends and you take a boat through the estuary out to sea.  The roaring Lempa River is less than one kilometer from Puerto Nuevo. A small offshoot of the river runs closer to the community. Today, it is a calm stream. But a week ago, the Lempa River more closely resembled the sea as it rushed through communities, leaving destruction in its path.  

About fifty yards from the water’s edge, a two-meters high wall of earth makes up the levee.  Just on the other side of the levee are fields, small coconut and mango orchards, and then homes. 

Puerto Nuevo is one of the hundreds of rural communities in El Salvador affected by the massive rains and flooding of October 2011.  The community just up the road, Santa Marta, was the first to flood in Tecoluca. When Santa Marta flooded on the first day of the storm as the river broke through the levee, the road to Puerto Nuevo became impassable. From that day on, Puerto Nuevo had no access to the outside world.   Read More »

Climate Change Blamed for Historic Flooding in El Salvador: Press Release

October 26, 2011

Communities Organize Disaster Response & Demand More Government Collaboration

JIQUILISCO, El Salvador – As thousands of Salvadorans return to their homes and begin to rebuild their lives after last week’s historic rain and floods, many officials and civil society organizations in the region are blaming climate change for the catastrophe and calling upon the government to respond appropriately.

Last week, Tropical Depression 12-E and weather from Hurricane Jova poured more than 55 inches of rain over a seven-day period on Central America, far eclipsing Hurricane Mitch in 1998, the storm by which all others had been compared.

Download the Press Release here: Climate Change – El Salvador Flood Press Release.

Please help spread the news about the situation in El Salvador and Central America with the US audience.  Send this press release and letters to the editor to your local news!

Read More »

Youth Bring Supplies and Fun to an Isolated Community

University Student Baltazar from Buen Pastor Entertains Kids

After over five days without supplies, members of the community Santiago Torres received help thanks to organized youth and international solidarity.

This rural community in the municipality of El Paisnal, home of Father Rutilio Grande, was isolated for two weeks after the Sucio River destroyed the hanging bridge connecting the 20 families to the main road. Read More »

As People Slowly Return Home, the Food Crisis Begins

October 24, 2011

On the surface, it seems things are returning to normal in El Salvador. The sun is out and shining. School is back in session. For the first time in two weeks, the front page of the papers is not a photo of someone wading through waist-deep water to safety.

Flood water remains in some communities

Director of Civil Protection Jorge Melendez estimated yesterday that 50% of evacuated people had returned home. Nationally, 209 schools are still being used as shelters. Those that remain in shelters do so because their homes are still full of water, as is the case in some communities along the coast, or because hills or mountains still threaten their communities with mudslides.

As people slowly begin to return home (visit our blog Wednesday for personal stories), some say the real emergency begins – the food crisis.

Initial estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) estimate that 98 million pounds of corn, 36 million pounds of beans, 22 million pounds of sorghum, and 9 million pounds of rice have been lost. This does not include the nearly one billion pounds of basic grains at risk. In terms of fruits and vegetables, the MAG predicts that up to 70% of national production has been lost. Read More »

The “Indirectly” Affected: Invisible Victims of Climate Change

Although their homes may not have flooded, although the rains may not have carried away or destroyed their material belongings, there are thousands of people throughout El Salvador that lost a great deal during the ten days of torrential rains that hit El Savlador from October 10-19. 

Agriculture workers and day laborers lost ten days of wages

For the majority of those who work in the informal sector, a day’s earning is what – literally – puts food on the table that evening.  If you don’t work, you don’t eat.  Agricultural workers, day laborers, informal sellers in the markets couldn’t work during the rain.  Silvia Maldinero, Women’s Coordinator at UCRES, a grassroots rural organization, explains that most women who work in the informal sector earn about $4 per day, nearly all of which goes to buy food for their families. After just a few days of heavy rains, people had gone through all of the rice, beans and corn they had saved up, and hunger spread.  

Estimates place work in the informal sector at around 50% of the working-age population of El Salvador. These are the men who walk the streets offering to fix shoes; or who fill pick-up trucks with fruits and vegetables to sell; the women who make tortillas on the side of the street; the fisherman who go out on small boats and sell their catch to market vendors; the mothers who fill baskets with typical foods or trinkets and walk from community to community, balancing their wares on their heads. Read More »

Communities Ravaged by Climate Change

October 21, 2011

“It’s like the war,” a young resident of Nueva Esperanza shares. “People will return to their communities with absolutely nothing. They’ll have to start over, just like when they came from Honduras.”In Central American, the October 2011 rains have taken the lives of 123, caused over a million people to evacuate, and destroyed homes, highways and extensive areas of crops and agriculture.

Assessing the Damage, Water Prevents Return Home

As the height of the emergency passes, the reconstruction begins.  The first step is to assess damages to homes, infrastructure, crops and livestock.  After a visit yesterday to the region, President Funes estimated that 70% of crops have been lost in El Salvador.

People will not know the extent of the damage until they are able to return to their communities, visit their fields, and find what livestock survived. As the water levels lowered on Thursday, the first people began to visit their communities to do asses the damage. In San Marcos Lempa, over 30 communities have lost water connection, making the task of removing mud from walls and floors impossible, and a return home still out of the question.

In San Carlos Lempa, the area closest to the coast remains flooded; communities like Rancho Grande, Taura, El Coyol and La Sabana are still under a few feet of water. Esmeralda Villalta, CRIPDES San Vicente Coordinator, reports that homes have been lost to the storm. Most people will have to stay in crowded, under-stocked emergency shelters until the water recedes.

The Mujeres Ganaderas report that in addition to crops and cattle, many of the supplies at their office and store were lost as the waters quickly rose over the weekend of October 15th and 16th.  With many people evacuated and those that remained trying to prepare their homes, Mugan President Santana and others were only able to carry some of their goods up to the second story.   
Read More »

Sonia’s Story from the Bajo Lempa

October 20, 2011

The flooded Lempa River

Heavy rains continue to pound down on crops, homes and spirits on Wednesday as accumulated rainfall and flooding reached record levels in communities near the Lempa River. Over 32,000 people have evacuated their homes to seek shelter in schools, churches and albergues. In San Marcos Lempa over 750 people are seeking refuge from rains and flooding worse than Hurricane Mitch. At least two more communities will be arriving to these shelters this evening as the river continues to rise.


Sonia Silva arrived at the Centro Escolar Miguel Dueñas, on Sunday after the shelter near her community of Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) flooded.  Sonia evacuated her home with her two young children on Saturday, and after one night in the shelter in Nueva Esperanza, was forced to evacuate again. Sonia’s husband, like many men in their community, stayed behind to guard homes and minimize damage but, with water levels now reaching the roofs, he arrived at the school yesterday, much to the relief of Sonia and her family.

Not everyone was as fortunate as Sonia’s family. Many people underestimated the severity of the flood and are now trapped between swelling rivers. Read More »

Tenth Day of Heavy Rain Pounds El Salvador

October 19, 2011

As torrential rains in El Salvador continue on this tenth day of record-breaking rain, evacuations continue and hopes of returning home seem far off.

As heavy rains continue, leaders like Alex Torres, President of UCRES, are concerned that the situation will continue to worsen: “The soil is saturated, and we think that more rain today will cause more damage than has happened in the past week.”

In the Balsamo Range, at least 375 people were evacuated in the middle of the night as a large crack in the mountainside formed, threatening a massive mudslide. Civil Protection has asked people to remain on high alert for mudslides; on Sunday night, five people were buried alive when a mudslide brought earth, rocks and trees on top of their homes in the municipality of Ciudad Arce, La Libertad.

Read More »

Communites Flooded, Isolated, Without Supplies in UCRES Region

As a nation-wide emergency wreaks havoc on the poorest and most vulnerable of El Salvador, communities in the UCRES region are once again affected by flooding rivers.  Non-stop rains since Monday, October 10th have caused the Lempa, Sucio and Acelhuate Rivers to breach their banks and rushing, contaminated water has damaged communities and their livelihoods.  

Bridge over the Sucio River Destroyed

Alex Torres, Pres of UCRES, is very concerned that today, with heavier rainfalls and saturated soil, the situation will worsen.  Apart from UCRES, there has been no support for communities affected.  

Evacuations began on October 12th, a mere two days after rains began to fall.  The communities of Berlin, las Garcitas, Potrero Grande and El Tule were the first evacuated, as families found themselves trapped between flooding Lempa and Acelhuate rivers in the municipality of El Paisnal.

Read More »

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