Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

New Legislation Bans Chemicals, Aims to Prevent Kidney Failure

February 21, 2014

What do you do if one out of every four men in your town suffered from mysterious kidney failure?

This is a question that rural communities from San Vicente, El Salvador, to Sandamalgama, Sri Lanka, to Uddanamm, India have been asking since an epidemic started in the early 1990s. 

Massive floods, like 12-E in October 2011, contribute to the contamination of ground water.

Massive floods, like 12-E in October 2011, contribute to the contamination of ground water.

What do the victims of Chronic Kidney Failure in these far reaching countries have in common? They have little formal education, work back-breaking agricultural jobs in sweltering temperatures, handle pesticides and fertilizers, and drink ground water from areas near where these pesticides and fertilizers were applied.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) has increased threefold in El Salvador since 1990, rising 25% in just the past 5 years, and is now the leading cause of hospitalized deaths in El Salvador. CKD has disproportionately affected young men who live in rural communities and work long hours harvesting sugar cane. Between 2005 and 2012, 1,500 men under the age of 19 were hospitalized for CKD (out of a total 40,000 hospitalized patients of all ages during the same period). In a national sample 95% of CKD patients worked as agricultural laborers where they were required to spray pesticides and fertilizers.

On September 5, 2013, forty-five Salvadoran legislators voted for and successfully passed the Law to Control the use of Pesticides and Fertilizers that was championed by SHARE’s partnering organization, CONFRAS. This legislation originally banned the use of 53 of the most toxic chemicals commonly found in fertilizers and pesticides in El Salvador and many believe are the main contributing factor of CKD. After the legislation was approved by the Salvadoran legislators, President Funes revised the law to only include 42 of these chemicals.

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Maize and Beans at Risk: Threatens Economy

October 25, 2012

The success of maize and bean crops is crucial to life in El Salvador, where over one million farmers’ livelihoods depend on their cultivation.  With higher temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns, a new report entitled, “Tortillas on the Roaster“, predicts that climate change will seriously threaten food security and transform the landscape in the region within the next ten years.

The Bajo Lempa region has already seen the drought effects of climate change.

SHARE partners with several organizations that are striving for food security, economic sovereignty, and protection against climate change for Salvadoran communities. One such partner, the Confederation of Federations of Salvadoran Agrarian Reform (CONFRAS), represents 131 cooperatives inEl Salvador made up of over 5,911 rural farmers throughout El Salvador.

Through CONFRAS, SHARE supported the Campesino to Campesino (Farmer to Farmer) program for many years, facilitating a process in which rural farmers teach other rural farmers organic farming techniques. With SHARE’s support, grassroots work and popular education are currently empowering rural farmers to teach others sustainable methods, employing new technologies mixed with traditional farming techniques. As is evidenced by the Tortillas report, sustainable farming like this is the only way agriculture can recover and continue in Central America.

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From Floods to Droughts: Climate Change Continues.

September 7, 2012

This summer has demonstrated to be one the driest in the history of El Salvador, what with an average of 45 days with no rain. The regions of La Union, Usulutan, Morazan, and San Miguel are especially devastated as they have lost more than one million crates of corn.  The crops produced in these four regions account for 17% of the basic grains produced in El Salvador.

Last fall floods destroyed crops through out El Salvador, this year a drought threatens to do the same.

The possibilities for rain are present, according to the ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN). The country will be under the influence of El Niño and the affected regions can expect irregular rain showers  in the coming months of September and October.

For now the Salvadoran government is distributing  “agricultural packages” composed of corn seeds and extensive fertilizer. President Funes has announced that the situation is not dire as the rest of the national production of basic grains  remain on track and food prices are not expected to increase as a result of this drought.

Even so we hope that the rains coming to El Salvador are sufficient to revitalize agriculture in these affected regions. This is yet another reminder that we cannot survive without water. Read more about this situation here


“We can Live Without Gold, but We Cannot Live Without Water”

August 31, 2012

Earlier this summer the Executive Branch of the Salvadoran government released a Mining Suspension Bill which would temporarily suspend all mining activity in El Salvador. Although this is an active step towards environmental justice in the country, environmentalists argue that this bill does not permanently stop mining exploitation. President Funes has not granted any mining permits since 2009 but the withstanding years have not allowed the affected regions like San Sebastian and Cabanas to heal. It was in the same year that two of these companies, Pacific Rim and Commerce Group, sued the Salvadoran government for denying their gold mining permit. The contamination of the Salvadoran waterways has immensely diminished the quality of life for the people in many small towns, to the point where even the act of washing one’s hands is treacherous.

 Environmental advocates like The National Roundtable Against Mining  and the Water Forum continue to express their disapproval of the bill presented by the executive branch and support a bill called the “Special Law for the Suspension of Administrative Procedures Related to Metallic Mining”.  As the struggle to protect the rich soils and hundreds of flowing rivers in the country, international advocates from the New Economy Working Group recently visited El Salvador and provided a captivating recollection of their sights and experience while witnessing the destruction left behind by metallic mining activities. To read the full story click here.


Cinquera Historica

December 28, 2011

Out of a past of horror and violence, Cinquera shines as a beacon of hope for the future.

A mere thirty years ago, nearly unspeakable atrocities were common place in this small, mountainous town. Don Lito, a historic leader of Cinquera, shares gut-wrenching tales of torture, rape, massacres, and incredible, cruetly against humble farmers whose greatest sin was to organize for land to work to feed their families. But today, Cinquera has become a model for locally-led, sustainble development with an emphasis on youth, historical memory, and environmental preservation.

In 1991, the civilian population returned to repopulate Cinquera from the refugee camp in Mesa Grande, Honduras. Like so many places in El Salvador, people returned to find a town destroyed. They began to rebuild from the rubble, starting with makeshift homes, then permanent houses, then roads, a school and potable water. Read More »


The National Roundtable against Mining Rejects the Public-Private Partnership Bill

November 21, 2011

In the context of the discussion surrounding the Public-Private Partnership Bill and the recent ratification of the Partners in Growth Agreement with the United States, the National Roundtable against Mining rejects these new efforts to privatize public services and states:

The proposals made in the Public-Private Partnership Bill and Partners in Growth Agreement with United States seem, clearly, to be the continuation of neoliberal policies that promote the privatization of public services and which would affect the economic, social, cultural and environmental rights of the Salvadoran population.

The participation of the private sector, as established by the bill, happen through concessions of goods and projects that are public domain or through concessions for the execution of an activity of public interest. The proposal also allows for the possibility that a company can use its own goods to sell a public service. As part of the organized social movement we ask ourselves: What is the difference then-if there is one-between public-private partnership contracts and the privatization of services? Or is this actually a disguise that attempts to hide the plans of institutions like the International Monetary Fund.
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Tropical Depression 12E Causes Estimated $840 Million in Damage and Loss

November 8, 2011

The Salvadoran government published the results of their evaluation of damages and losses provoked by Tropical Depression 12E in October 2011.  This evaluation was done with the technical support of CEPAL (Economic Comission for Latin America and the Carribean).  Here, we share some of the most relevant findings and results of this study and a final reflection.

 

Climate Patterns are Changing and Becoming More Extreme in El Salvador
In just two years, El Salvador has been affected by five extreme climate events: Topical Storm Ida in 2009, Agatha, Alex and Matthew in 2010, and Tropical Depression 12E in 2011 (see chart below for more comparisons between these extreme climate events).

“Tropical Depression 12E is the largest event registered in the history of the country,” Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources Herman Rosa Chavez described.    
 
With Tropical Depression 12E, 747 mm (29.4 inches) of rain fell.  With Hurricane Mitch, the most devastating storm until now, 472mm (18.5 inches) of rain accumulated.  In 2011 in only 10 days, it rained the equivalent of what it rains on average in one year in the United States (735.5mm) and 15% more than the expected rainfall in Spain (636mm). 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!

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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 »


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