With its coastal belt and central plateau, El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America. There are around 7 million Salvadorans, who are mostly concentrated around the capital of San Salvador. At least 20% of Salvadorans live abroad. Many of them left the country during the civil war, which cost 75,000 lives and ended in 1992.
Today, El Salvador has one of the world's highest homicide rates and criminal gangs are a problem. In addition, the country is frequently affected by natural disasters, earthquakes, and hurricanes.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in El Salvador since 1972.
Around 36% of the population of El Salvador lives in poverty.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the rising cost of living that happened in the following years has meant that many children and young people are living in poverty.
Children and young people who live in poverty are less likely to stay in school, and they are also less likely to be able to access health care when they need it. Their parents need extra support so that children can grow up healthily in a safe environment.
In El Salvador, 7% of children are not going to primary school. Forced displacement, threats, kidnapping, sexual violence, and homicides – extreme violence has a profound impact on society, but it also has a devastating effect on education.
In the many neighbourhoods of El Salvador that are controlled by criminal gangs, 40 per cent children do not have access to education. And, without education, gangs are more likely recruit or exploit children and young people.
Around 13 out of 1000 children die before the age of 5. This mortality rate of children under 5 years old directly reflects issues affecting child health and well-being across El Salvador. It also reveals the lack of access of many families to basic health care.
Around 9% of births are not registered. Children without official identification documents can be denied health care or education. In addition they can more easily be forced to marry or work before the legal age.