Commitment for Life – Central America – November 2016

CENTRAL AMERICA

Christian Aid works in four countries in Central America – Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. They work with around 30 partner organisations, from community-based groups to larger organisations operating across the region and beyond.

Their partners include indigenous communities, small farmers’ associations, development organisations, research institutions and faith-based organisations.

They have strong links with sister ecumenical agencies DanChurchAid, Norwegian Church Aid, Finn Church Aid and Church World Service, and work to seek new alliances with government ministries and agencies, and the private sector.

Twenty-seven years on from the Central American Peace Accords, poverty, violence, environmental vulnerability and widespread inequality remain serious challenges for the region. This inequality is starkly shown by the high rates of malnutrition and poverty in the poorest communities, particularly in rural areas.

Together with Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador are the least developed countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Current tax policies shed some light on the problem: the average tax revenue is just 15.95%, leaving Central American governments without sufficient resources to invest in social spending. Against this backdrop, Central America has become the most violent region in Latin America and the Caribbean. ‘Femicide’ (the intentional killing of women because they are female) is prevalent, and young people are stigmatised. The perception that they are involved in violent gangs, means they are denied their essential rights to education and employment.

Across the region, the closing of spaces within which civil society organisations and social movements can participate is worrying. This has created a very precarious situation for human rights in the region. International aid has reduced significantly in recent years because of the global financial crisis and the political decisions of major donors to withdraw support for the region.

According to a recent UN report on climate change, Central America has three main challenges: to resolve the high levels of socio-economic and environmental vulnerability of the majority of the population, to promote climate change adaptation alternatives and to move towards sustainable low-carbon economies based on renewable sources. The region’s climatic vulnerability is worsening, with recurrent droughts, flooding and hurricanes – events which always hit the poor hardest.

During the week beginning 20th November, please pray for the work of Christian Aid partners in Nicaragua who are working to dismantle the damaging ‘machismo’ society so that women will be free from fear and become equals.

O God,
Who made us male and female in your image,
show us how to live with one another
with profound respect,
in joyful celebration and for shared justice,
so that all your people, in every home and in every place, may rejoice that we are of the same flesh.
In the name of Jesus, the first one of a new humankind, Amen

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