C0mmittment for Life – Stories for Change – February 2017

COMMITMENT FOR LIFE STORIES FOR CHANGE FEBRUARY 2017 

CENTRAL AMERICA

In El Salvador, the increase in violence and insecurity, mainly associated with gangs and organized crime, reached the highest homicide rate in the world for a country not in armed conflict. In the first three months of 2016, national authorities recorded almost one murder every hour. Violent and criminal gangs act with impunity, and justice and security institutions are unable to fulfil their role. Entire neighbourhoods in cities and communities in the countryside have fallen under informal control of gangs and extortion, which directly affects the economy and livelihoods of families and businesses. The youth population is the sector most affected by the gang phenomenon, both as victims and perpetrators.

This is the very real and dangerous space in which partners must negotiate on a daily basis. Christian Aid partner, FESPAD, is at the forefront of this work. It works in some of the country’s most marginalized communities to set-up and support violence prevention councils which encourage community members to lobby municipal government for public services and action that the State is failing to provide.

Meanwhile, in Nicaragua, the government continued to reduce participatory spaces for civil society organisations by using repressive mechanisms against peasants who oppose specific projects, and systematic attacks against political adversaries.

All four countries continue to face similar challenges in terms of violence and insecurity due to gangs and criminal organization activity, weak political systems and environmental deterioration. In light of this, Christian Aid has identified partner organisations capable of leading regional processes and sustaining dialogue with Christian Aid. Similarly, it has engaged key organisations in its global advocacy processes, such as Centro Humboldt (Nicaragua), UNES (El Salvador) in the climate change campaign, Congcoop (Guatemala) in the international debate on Sustainable Development Goals, ICEFI (Guatemala) is used as a think tank, challenging the tax system.

All this is testament to Christian Aid shifting its focus towards a more regional approach in Central America.

Author: David Wiggs

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