COMMITMENT FOR LIFE STORIES FOR CHANGE JULY 2017

CENTRAL AMERICA

Honduras: Traditional ‘slash and burn’ agriculture is practiced throughout the tropics and accounts for millions of tonnes of carbon being released into the atmosphere every year, significantly contributing to global warming.

‘Slash and burn is estimated to release twice as much carbon into the atmosphere each year as all the air travel around the world.’

In Honduras, Christian Aid supports OCDIH, the Christian Organisation for Integrated Development in Honduras which encourages farmers to adopt more environmentally-friendly techniques.

By demonstrating how to plant food crops between Inga and other tree species and training in the use of organic fertilisers, OCDIH, has helped hundreds of small farmers to increase their incomes and yields, enabling them to buy more land and raise livestock, which also improves their diet.

El Salvador is a small but densely populated country of roughly 6.2 million people, located on the Pacific coast of Central America. A few years ago, the UN Climate Change Office rated the country the most vulnerable in the world, with 80% of its territory reported as being at risk. However, climate change is only one of the many sustainable development challenges currently faced by the people of El Salvador. Although the UN peace accords, which brought a formal close to the country’s long-running civil war, came into effect in 1992, El Salvador is still deeply marked by its history of conflict. The long-term effects of the structural injustice and high levels of poverty which formed the background to the conflict are still being played out in its aftermath. Land polluted by pesticides, a threatened coastline, youth gang violence, interrupted education, unemployment, culturally embedded gender inequality, and persistent violence against women are only some of the additional challenges faced by those who are trying to rebuild their land.

Jiquilisco Bay, on the southern coast, where PROCARES, is working with the communities resettled here at the end of the conflict as they continue to address these challenges. PROCARES stands for Programme for Capacity-Building and Reconstruction in El Salvador. Even before the war had ended, while thousands had taken refuge from the conflict in neighbouring countries, PROCARES stood in solidarity with the refugees, helping them to address issues of livelihood, education, and stability while they were still in exile.

When the conflict finally came to an end, they were ready, and better-equipped, to reclaim hope, and so began the long walk home. Some of the returned refugees were resettled in Jiquilisco Bay, with international (including EU) support. In the face of severe climate volatility, ongoing coastal erosion, and ruined infrastructure, this new community began to reclaim the land, and along with it, their own future.

A Disaster Risk Reduction programme, coordinated early on by PROCARES, has provided some stability, with the establishment of weather monitoring stations and early warning systems. Mangrove preservation and reforestation campaigns are ongoing, not least because mangrove forests provide a strong defence against the wave surges of tropical storms. Perhaps the most important long-term challenge facing the people of Jiquilisco Bay, however, is that of establishing a local, sustainable, low-carbon economy, so that they can provide a livelihood for themselves, continue to build their community infrastructure.

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