Disaster Risk Reduction in El Salvador

Believe it or not, the gentleman in this picture is not in any danger. He’s not an injured person being transported to the hospital nor is he part of a part of any show or stunt (or on the losing end of any bet).

In fact, by being attached to that wooden board by a piece of strong cord, this gentleman is actually helping others avoid danger.

Let me explain.

El Salvador is no stranger to tropical storms and other natural disasters. In fact, the country was ranked among the 10 most vulnerable countries to natural hazards in the world. In 2009, Hurricane Ida struck the area and in May 2010 tropical depression Agatha hit. Both brought considerable loss. Hurricane Ida alone claimed 94 lives and left 66 people missing.

Barring the occasional uncharacteristic earthquake, here in the U.S. we have early warning systems for many natural disasters. Our news stations alert us to oncoming trouble, such as Hurricane Irene, so that we can make plans. Our government can order evacuations, schools can decide not to open and we can purchase needed supplies to protect ourselves and our homes.

Poor, rural communities in developing countries often don’t have those same kinds of early warning systems, and they lack the resources needed to help prepare for, and lessen the impact of, the effects of natural disasters. Local governments are sometimes able to help in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, but often families needs a lot of additional support to fully recover.

That’s why LWR is working with people in El Salvador in the Department of San Vincente — one of the areas most severely affected by natural disasters — on a project funded through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to help reduce people’s vulnerability to disaster and help disaster management and response workers operate more effectively.

Which brings me back to the above photo. It was taken during a training held in San Vincente for community rescue brigades, small groups of local people who serve their communities much in the same way as volunteer fire departments in the U.S.  Community members in the photo are learning about emergency health care techniques in order to attend to those who might suffer injuries during a natural disaster.

Because of this training, and others like it, workers will be better equipped to reach out to people following disasters. It’s just one part of an overall plan to reduce the risks associated with natural disasters in El Salvador.

By working with communities on disaster risk reduction, we help them both prepare for and recover from natural disasters and get back to the business of working toward better futures.  Thank you for supporting this work.