Oxfam America and Pro Vida are teaming up to bring clean drinking water to rural El Salvador by building healthy wells in communities affected by contaminated surface water. Salvadorans on the frontlines of climate change are taking their futures into their own hands by helping maintain these wells for generations to come.
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ELVIRA [9 Years Old]
Hi, I’m Elvira. The water from the old hand-dug well had little creatures in it. We couldn’t drink that water because we would get stomachaches. With this clean water, we do not get stomachaches anymore.
El Salvador. San Salvador: capital of El Salvador
El Salvador is both the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. Many Salvadorans have struggled to overcome historic inequities. The long civil war and natural disasters have made things more challenging. Almost half of El Salvador’s population now lives in poverty. And more than 90 percent of the country’s surface water is contaminated. Increasingly erratic rainfall and floods, caused by climate change, threaten El Salvador’s water supply even further, especially in the Zacatecoluca area, about 35 miles outside the capital.
FLORENTINO DIAZ CRUZ [Community Leader]
During the wet season, it rains day and night. Day and night. The rivers swell, and then the water gets contaminated.
KARINA COPEN [Oxfam America}
So what generally happens here is that when it floods, the water gets extremely contaminated. The streams overflow; this is an area with a lot of cattle, and all that waste goes into the hand-dug wells that are found in most of the homes here.
MARIA LUISA PORTILLO [Resident]
I get our drinking water from a hand-dug well. We use this water to clean the dishes, cook, and drink. When it rains, a lot of the water comes out muddy, but because we do not have other options, this is the water that we drink.
Oxfam and local partner Pro Vida built five healthy wells. Lined and outfitted with filters, these wells provide a clean source of drinking water.
The proposal of these healthy wells is to build a sealed well that not only gives them higher-quality water all year around, but in the case of flooding, which is happening more and more as we’re seeing changes in the climate, this is going to provide a safe water source during emergencies and throughout the year.
FLORENTINO DIAZ CRUZ
We all have the right to water. But not to the bad water we used to drink. Quality water, water that helps us stay healthy.
In the town of El Recuerdo, in Zacatecoluca, the healthy well is located in the schoolyard, the heart of the community. The well provides many families with clean water.
BLANCA CALERO DE CATIVO [Teacher]
This healthy well has changed the lives of all the kids here. Before the healthy well, the kids used to get sick and they were often absent from school.
CINDY MELISA [8 Years Old]
My name is Cindy Melisa. I drew my mom bringing water to the house. The water that comes out of the tank is drinkable and healthy.
DR. CRISTINA SALAZAR [Pro Vida]
The community has responded in a very positive way. Therefore, they are involved in its maintenance and are trying to keep the healthy well in good condition.
Village of Agua Zarca, Zacatecoluca
ANA FRANCISCA REYES [Local Water Committee Member]
We have learned how to clean the wells inside, how to put chlorine in the water. Pro Vida and Oxfam America have taught us how to do it.
As the climate changes, increased flooding puts thousands in this region at risk.
DR. CRISTINA SALAZAR
We are talking about approximately 50 communities and only five healthy wells. Our short-term dream is to bring quality water to as many communities as possible. This is the way I would like to see these communities get a better quality of life. This is what we would like to see.