Increasing climate change resilience in El Salvador

10 February 2011 | News story

CRiSTAL, a tool used to identify threats of climate change impacts on community livelihoods, was the focus of a recent workshop in the San Ignacio region of El Salvador.

The tool is aimed at empowering communities through lessons and practices at the local level in order to promote collective understanding and action to increase resilience to climate change impacts. CRiSTAL helps identify the needs and ways to transform, adopt and apply frameworks of good water governance relevant to the challenges of the region.

With the participation of officials and political authorities of different government and municipal agencies, community and non-governmental organizations involved in community service and support, emergency response actors and others, a training workshop was held in the San Ignacio municipality on the use and application of CRiSTAL.

With the support of Trifinio, IUCN seeks to strengthen adaptation capacity in the upper part of the Sumpul River sub-basin through practices ensuring continuity of goods and ecosystem services, on which livelihoods and economies in this region depend. Simultaneously the aim is to reduce the vulnerability of social groups susceptible to climate change, in particular to avoid future conflicts over water use.

Application of CRiSTAL in Las Pilas, located in the municipality of San Ignacio, El Salvador, showed that the primary climate-related threats to communities are strong variations in rainfall patterns, extreme temperature fluctuations and heavy winds. This produces impacts such as landslides, flooding, recurring droughts, crop loss, damage to local productive infrastructure (greenhouses) and housing, as well as increased respiratory illnesses and food scarcity, all of which affect livelihoods and trigger migration as people seek places with better opportunities to cultivate land or find employment.

It is clear from these results that climate variability and change have significant effects on community livelihoods in the basin, worsened by poverty, lack of organization, high illiteracy rates and scarce development alternatives. In addition, conflicts have broken out among communities and their neighbours in the border region over use of water for agricultural production.

Based on the various findings, a work plan was drafted with a strategy to promote local water governance and community adaptation.

In its first phase of execution, this BMU project has selected the basins of the Coatán and Cahoacán rivers in the state of Chiapas, Mexico; the Lempa and Paz rivers in El Salvador; and the Sixaola River between Panama and Costa Rica.

For more information contact: carlos.rosal@iucn.org