The water crisis in El Salvador is dire. Four in ten people in rural areas lack drinking water. Many more families use highly contaminated water. Water service in urban areas is also very deficient. In San Salvador, many poorer communities in the capital city receive drinking water only once every ten or fifteen days. Lack of clean water is causing high levels of stress, poor sanitation, and health problems. COFOA (Comunidades de Fe Organizadas en Acción) has been organizing since 2014 to secure access to clean water at the local and national level.
COFOA is making some progress. In La Libertad Department, four rural communities in San Juan Opico have formed water cooperatives and partnered with their local mayor to secure $30,000 needed to dig new wells that now provide clean water to more than 4,000 families. In Soyapango, after a year-long campaign featuring meetings, protests, and press conferences, COFOA leaders in the Concaste community succeeded in getting the national water administration to invest $55,000 to reopen a well that had been abandoned for 15 years. This well now provides drinking water to more than 6,000 families every day.
COFOA leaders are working with other communities in Soyapango, where more than half of the 300,000 residents don’t have drinking water in their homes. In rural areas, COFOA is organizing thousands of families from 25 communities where real estate developers and government agencies failed to register land titles and deliver on promises of needed community improvements, including not only water but also paved roads, green spaces, and schools.
COFOA has been a vital member of a national water coalition, where organizations such as Caritas, Tutela Legal of the Archdiocese, Universidad Centro Americana UCA, and others are fighting for a General Water Law to prevent the privatization of water and the introduction of Constitutional Amendment making water a Human Right.