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El Salvador: a country profile -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

El Salvador: a country profile

Habitat for Humanity’s work in El Salvador
El Salvador, the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America, has come a long way. According to UNICEF figures, for example, the mortality rate for children under age 5 dropped by more than 50 percent between 1990 and 2007.



Four-year-old Raquel Aparenga lives with her family in a house renovated by Habitat El Salvador in Brisas del Sur, a community overlooking the city of San Vicente that 15 Habitat partner families now call home.


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That said, there is still far to go.

Habitat for Humanity El Salvador has been working since 1992 and completed its 7,000th house in July. New initiatives in the country include financial literacy training and a focus on building holistic model communities, creating basic infrastructure—water and electricity—but also social infrastructure, such as community centers.

With every milestone, every model community, Habitat El Salvador continues to help pave the winding road to better living conditions for thousands of people.

  • In the 1980s, El Salvador’s economy was devastated by a civil war that took place largely in agricultural areas. Since then, the agricultural sector has recovered somewhat, aided by the growing world market for coffee and sugarcane.
  • The geography of El Salvador would be challenging even in a perfect political or economic climate. In 2001, earthquakes killed 1,000 people and left thousands without homes or jobs. In 2005, a volcanic eruption permanently displaced 5,000 people and, in the same month, Hurricane Stan’s flooding killed 67 people and forced 50,000 to evacuate.
  • Habitat El Salvador has established three yearly blitz builds that emphasize the role of faith in working toward greater access to decent housing. “Rise Up and Build” occurs during Easter Week, “Building on Faith” takes place the first week in August, and “Christmas in Action” happens the first week of December. In 2008, 454 national volunteers and many of the country’s 828 international volunteers for the year built 52 homes during these three events.
  • In 2008, 40 international churches and 34 national churches supported Habitat El Salvador’s Building Hope Campaign by providing volunteer labor and raising about $371,000 for the construction of 53 houses.

Sources: Habitat for Humanity El Salvador 2008 annual report; UNICEF; U.S. State Department