In central El Salvador, San Vicente is home to roughly 53,000 inhabitants – 174,000 in the department of the same name. It is a volcanic, rural region where most people live off agriculture.
Here, young people who cannot find farming work move to the cities, but urban unemployment continues to be a great problem. This lack of opportunities and support are some of the factors that can drive them to get recruited by a gang.
Since 2004, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in San Vicente.
In rural areas across the country, the percentage of young people who are not in school is more than two times higher than in urban regions. In the countryside, 19% of young people of lower secondary school age are not in school. For comparison, that number stands at 7% in the cities.
Families need to be supported so that children and young people can stay in school as long as possible. Without access to further education, young people cannot develop the skills they need to improve their economic situation.
Around San Vicente, and in other rural regions of El Salvador, 6% of the population drinks unclean drinking water. That means their drinking water comes from an unprotected dug well, a spring or a tank. Sometimes it is simply surface water – coming from rivers, lakes, canals, or bottled water.
Access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation are fundamental needs, and a safe water supply is key to ensuring health and economic benefits for everyone, especially children.