Everyone needs clean water during this public health crisis. Poor communities are at great risk when they don’t have access. COFOA leaders are pressing forward on securing water for those communities. The COFOA organization in rural San Juan Opico just completed drilling the well in February that is providing water to their immediate community. Now the cooperative that is managing the well is delivering water to surrounding communities at no cost. Trucks are loaded and delivered to containers in front of homes for hundreds of families. Because of COFOA efforts in Soyapango and Ostuma, mayors there are delivering water to thousands of families who do not have regular access to water. COFOA leaders are also investigating what local mayors, public health units and civil defense leaders are doing to deliver food and essential health services.
The government has mandated a country-wide quarantine to suppress the epidemic and is providing $300 support for a million and a half poor families. However this will not be enough to sustain poor families who depend on work in the maquiladoras or though small family enterprises for more than a month. The country’s health system is weak and will not be able to deal with major escalation. As of April 5 El Salvador reported 3 deaths from COVID19 and 69 confirmed cases, with a significant daily increase.[i] Faith in Action is working with COFOA to help train and support staff to safely continue their work, including providing emergency food assistance. Please keep COFOA staff, leaders and the people in your prayers as they continue to press for testing, treatment and support services for the most vulnerable in El Salvador.
This past December COFOA, Faith in Action, the Hope Border Initiative and grassroots and faith-based organizations in Central America, Mexico and the U.S. met to discuss the root causes of poverty, violence and corruption that are driving people to migrate in the region. The working group for this “root causes” initiative is working with Catholic Bishops in the region to develop a framework for protecting migrants and refugees during the pandemic. As they respond to the crisis, developing countries in the region, and across the world will need increased aid for public health and community development from international development agencies and the U.S.