ISCOS: 20 years providing solidarity and cooperation in El Salvador

The Italian Trade Union Institute for International Development (ISCOS) has been working in El Salvador since 2000. During those two decades, thousands of low-income families have benefited from ISCOS’ cooperation programs. These focus on developing sustainable economic, social and environmental activities that have a positive impact on the environment and contribute to addressing the climate crisis.

By Gianni Alioti, ISCOS CISL

In the 1970s, more than 13,000 people from various Salvadoran departments were forced to move due to the construction of the Cerrón Grande hydroelectric dam and power plant. Many of these families had to change livelihood, from being farmers they had to live on fishing, an activity they didn’t know much about. They never received any transition assistance or financial compensation for this.

Today, the dam generates one third of the country’s electricity and is the main freshwater reserve in El Salvador. In addition, the Cerrón Grande water reservoir was declared a wetland of international importance in 2005.

It is in this context that ISCOS participated in the "Live Wetland" project - co-financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and implementation in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of El Salvador.

The project lasted three years (2017-2019) and aimed at promoting activities contributing to the sustainable management of the environmental resources of the Cerrón Grande basin by strengthening local coordination and social cohesion through the involvement of the most vulnerable groups - particularly low-income families, mainly women and young people from rural communities - in sustainable production initiatives in the fisheries, agriculture and tourism sectors.

In total, the project directly helped 7,839 people, and over 98 thousand people, indirectly. That is 68 per cent of the inhabitants of the wetland areas included in the 14 municipalities involved.

Currently, ISCOS is implementing a new project to strengthen the capacities of civil society organisations in the Cerrón Grande Wetland to play their role as key actors of sustainable development (dialogue, consultation and governance), and also to improve the area’s water resource management, especially at the community level, and to increase the generation of income and employment in the area through productive agroecological activities.

This project will last 30 months. It is co-financed by the European Commission and is developed in partnership with the local organisation of the Committee for Reconstruction and Economic and Social Development of Suchitoto Communities, with the participation of the Salvadoran associations AGUASUCHI and PROGRESO, and in close coordination with The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of El Salvador and the Municipality of Suchitoto.



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Photo: ISCOS