By Patricia Morales, Communications Co-ordinator, Plan El Salvador
Families headed by women in El Rosario municipality in El Salvador whose houses were destroyed by Hurricane Stan now have new homes - thanks to a joint project from Plan and its partners.
El Rosario was badly hit by Hurricane Stan in October 2005, and following the disaster Plan teamed up with the Mayor of El Rosario, the City Council, the European Commission and community members to implement a housing project for families who had lost their homes and crops.
In total, 49 families from communities in Cantón Veracruz, El Rosario Centro, Calvario and Amatillo have benefited from the 14-month project, which was called "Housing Rehabilitation for Hurricane Stan victims in the Municipality of El Rosario" and which had a total investment of US$ 393,000.
And on 1 June this year, the project's inauguration ceremony took place in El Rosario, presided over by Wouter Wilton, Representative of the European Commission Delegation in El Salvador (pictured, right, with a child reporter), Odilio Portillo, Mayor of El Rosario, and El Salvador Country Director Rossana Viteri.
Mr Wilton said: "People have made a commitment to take good care of their houses. They acknowledge that this is the result of a partnership among them, the City Council, Plan El Salvador and the European Union."
Rossana Viteri added: "These houses belong to the women who built them. They worked hard for several months to have a safe place for their children."
Empowerment of women
A major impact of the project was the empowerment of women, who were actively involved in the building of their new houses. They also received training in sanitation education and project management, joining committees in charge of budgeting, planning and administration. In total 49 houses were constructed, equipped with latrines, stoves and draining wells and connected to the municipal water system.
Mitigation works including rainwater drainage, retention walls and protected terraces to prevent erosion were also undertaken, and an environmental youth group was set up to work on reforestation in the area.
Project participant and community representative Evarista López, who also attended the inauguration ceremony, said: "It has been difficult and exhausting, but at the same time it is so rewarding to know that we did it for our children and to show other women who have no man by their side that they are capable of doing great things, like building a house!"