Once lush, El Salvador is dangerously close to running dry

Maria Alejandrino, 34, and Teresa Serrano, 42, are like most people in their community in Cabañas, in that they must get their water at a well during the dry season.
Nearby, poor residents complain that they lack water service.
“Poor people are the ones who tend to end up drinking contaminated water from natural sources”, says Andrés McKinley, an expert on water and mining at the Central American University José Simeón Cañas (UCA) in the capital city of San Salvador.
According to the Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development (FUSADES), nearly a quarter of the population in rural areas has no access to running water either in their homes or at public taps.
The Nejapa aquifer serves as the water source for the majority of metropolitan San Salvador, and damages to pipes earlier this year cut service to more than one million people for days.
Residents like Carlos Melara, 45, who lives in the community of San Antonio Abad on the outskirts of San Salvador, fear that development is taking precedence over poor households like his.
The region’s drought-prone Dry Corridor, in particular, is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to the disasters resulting from a changing climate, and it blankets El Salvador.
Tackling the crisis The government of El Salvador has made progress in recent years by improving water services and creating systems to monitor water quality and supply.
“We need a joint effort from the central government, municipal governments, civil society, [and] the business sector.
“All of these issues related to climate change or to other causes of the crisis of water in El Salvador keep coming back to the lack of institutional structures to regulate water”, he says.

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