El Salvador

El Salvador: Youth take action to protect flood-hit communities

News and Press Release
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Salvadoran youths have been taking direct action to protect their flood-hit communities, with help from Plan.

Following last year's storms, a Civil Protection Committee was formed in 56 communities across central El Salvador, and the members have been trained in disaster risk reduction as part of a project carried out by Plan with the aid of UK government agency DFID and European Commission Humanitarian Aid.

Youth from the local areas were trained in civil protection and split into dedicated brigades covering monitoring and early warning, first aid and evacuation. When the devastating floods struck on November 7, they were prepared to respond quickly and efficiently.

Saving lives

Thanks to early monitoring, the Civil Protection Committee was able to start alerting people two hours before the worst weather struck. With the aid of a megaphone, the youth ensured that everybody was awake and on the move.

Elisa, 21, is one of the young people who received the training from Plan in Cerco de Piedra. She compares this experience to last year's and explains that although property damage is worse this time, they were able to save the lives of almost everybody in the area.

"Now we know how to respond in many types of emergencies, because we know what to do, not like last year . . . I know what it means to lose everything," says Erika.

"Last year's flood left us with nothing, and we were just starting to recover. Things might look worse now, but at least we managed to save most people, only one woman was unaccounted for."

Plan action

The floods have left up to 15,000 people without shelter and indirectly affected 100,000 Salvadorans. Plan has already delivered thousands of food packages, mattresses, blankets and hygiene kits to families affected by the disaster.

On November 9, Plan was offered air support from the army, enabling it to reach the isolated area of Joya Grande which had been cut off by landslides. Plan was the first non-governmental organization delivering emergency supplies as well as providing psycho-social care to the 120 families living in temporary shelters there.