El Salvador

IFRC: Focus on El Salvador 2003

Situation Report
Originally published


1. Introduction
El Salvador is the smallest of the Central American countries with a population of 6.3 million. A protracted civil war was fought between 1980 and 1992 during which approximately 20 per cent of the population fled the country, resulting in serious political, economic and social challenges. Recovery is slow and has been further hampered by the destruction wrought by hurricane Mitch in 1998 and, more recently, by the major earthquakes of January and February 2001.

The Salvadorean Red Cross Society (SRC) was founded in 1885 and was recognized by the Movement in 1925. The work carried out by the National Society during the civil war left the Society with a strong public image and it is regarded by the government and the population as one of the leading aid organizations in times of disaster. This image was reinforced through the SRC's work in response to hurricane Mitch and to the devastating earthquakes. Following these disasters, the Salvadorean Red Cross Society supported by the Federation and several PNSs, provided food, first aid, clean water, shelter and health services to the displaced, and the SRC undertook post-hurricane Mitch rehabilitation efforts in the worst affected areas. Similarly, following the earthquakes, the SRC is implementing an operation including components of rehabilitation and recovery, focusing on the renovation of health posts and centres in areas most affected by the earthquakes.

The Salvadorean Red Cross Society is composed of 12 departmental branches and 52 local branches and maintains ambulances, first aid services and a blood bank. The current leadership recognizes the need to reinforce the capacity of the National Society, particularly through strengthening at branch level.

2. National Context

El Salvador
Country ranking HDI
Total population (millions)
% of the population living below $ 1/day
% of the population living below national poverty line
GDP per capita (US $)
Infant mortality per 1,000 live births
Under 5 mortality per 1,000 live births
Maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births
% of births attended by skilled health staff (1995/2000)
% of total population undernourished (1997/99)
% of population using improved water sources
% of population using adequate sanitation facilities
% of people living with HIV/ AIDS
Annual population growth rate % (2000 - 2005)
% of population under 15 yrs of age (2000)
% of population aged 65 and above (2000)
Net primary school enrollment ratio %
Adult illiteracy rate % Male age 15 +
Adult illiteracy rate % Female age 15 +

Source: Human Development Report 2002 - UNDP

El Salvador has one of the highest levels of inequality of income distribution in the world. The richest 20 per cent of the population receives, on average, eighteen times more income than the poorest 20 per cent. About half of the population continues to receive an income which is less than the minimum required to satisfy basic requirements. High percentages of the population continue to experience lack adequate nutrition, housing, education, access to drinking water and sanitation facilities. Women continue to have fewer opportunities than men and receive substantially lower incomes.

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