Diagnosis of the environmental situation of El Salvador

Diagnosis of the environmental situation of El Salvador

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By Miguel Ángel Alvarado

Presentation Miguel Ángel Alvarado, from the (ACAPb), member of the Association of Environmental Communities of El Salvador (ACAES). According to reports from the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), in the country we are deforesting an annual average of 4,500 hectares of forests.

a) Incident factors in the environmental crisis we are experiencing:

1) High degree of deforestation of forests:

According to reports from the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), in the country we are deforesting an annual average of 4,500 hectares of forests and we have reduced Natural Areas to 1.87% throughout the national territory.

This uncontrollable deforestation that arises as a product of the indiscriminate felling of trees and forest fires, for the realization of agricultural crops, plus others caused by individuals who apply archaic methods for raising livestock and facilitating the cutting of sugar cane (which are carried out in the face of a negligent attitude of the Government that does not comply and that also violates the environmental laws of the country) a situation that already leads to a disproportionate erosion, soil sedimentation and desertification of the country in 75%, and the loss of more than 12,000 million cubic meters of water per year provided by the rain cycle.

That the 360 ​​rivers throughout the country, in the last 30 years, suffer an impact of a decrease in their flow ranging from 30 to 70% and in the north of Cuscatlán, Chalatenango and Cabañas, from 70 to 100% , where there are already desert areas. The only tributary that has increased its flow from 25 to 35% is the Acelhuate River.

The pluvial cycle leaves us year after year a supply of water in figures equivalent to 38,283 million cubic meters, of which an evapotranspiration of 67% is considered, leaving 33% which is equivalent to 12,633 million cubic meters potentially available per year.

The water needed for a population of 6.5 million inhabitants, with a daily supply of 250 liters per day per person, is 593 million cubic meters per year, equivalent to 4.8%, leaving 28.2% equivalent to 12,040 million cubic meters that translates into losses.

This rainwater that infiltrates the ground in less and less quantity to feed the underground aquifers is what, as a result of the high degree of deforestation and desertification that we have already caused, we have forced it to drain on the ground more and more. quantity towards rivers and the sea, causing serious floods, landslides, alluvium, collapse of walls and bridges, saturation and collapse of the sewage system in cities that no longer supply, causing destruction, more poverty, hunger and death in high-risk areas where the country's most vulnerable communities live.

According to the Central American Water Court, in the country the groundwater mantle drops one meter per year, and as of 2005 we had 3.5% of potentially available surface and groundwater, which has placed us among the 14 countries in the world with the highest problem of severe water shortage.

The executive, in a very intelligent way and with a privatizing purpose, in the face of this situation of the water crisis that is becoming practically unsustainable, is promoting a plan to decentralize the potable service for the municipalities, which will solve the crisis very little or not at all. Rather, in this way it is trying to decentralize the social pressure it has in the face of the scarcity of the resource, transferring it to the Municipal Governments.

With this measure of decentralization of the service that it is promoting, it aims to achieve two things:

  • Reduce the political costs that you are already paying in front of the population that does not receive the service.
  • Gain time that allows it to generate the necessary objective conditions (when the municipalities are in failure) to promote the privatization plan of the purified service.

In addition, with the destruction of forests and soil erosion that takes place in the upper part of the hydrographic basins, which is dragged with its debris by the runoff of rainwater to the lower parts, generating sedimentation as we are seeing in the Capital city, other effects are reproduced with highly negative damages for the population, such as:

Floods, burying houses and millionaire expenses of dollars to dredge and strip the lower parts, build huts to prevent flooding, build collapsed bridges etc. that affect the poor population and increasing their level of poverty.

2) Disorderly population growth:

The lack of a National Law on Territorial Planning and engineering guidance with adequate construction techniques by the Government, has led us to disorderly urban population growth.

Funnel urban cities have been created that communicate with others through the road network, and where vehicular transport depends on main arteries, which when congested generate large traffic jams that translate into lost time for the worker, a higher level of pollution of smog for the environment and a higher level of unhealthiness for the population, which soon translates into respiratory diseases.

The above does not justify in any way the government's obsession to build more roads, since with the application of this wrong strategy (supposedly to solve the congestion of vehicular traffic and development), it will only achieve an increase in a greater volume of vehicles circulating. that it would end up bottling it more as has happened in other Cities of the World, without the problem of congestion and public transportation being solved effectively.

In this way, the situation of use of the physical space of the land with its environment that sustains it is increasingly leading to a higher level of destruction and serious deterioration of environmental living conditions for the general population that is already suffering it. , especially for the urban population that already faces serious problems of overcrowding and environmental unhealthiness, expressed in recurrent uncontrollable viral and bacterial epidemics.

At the country level, we have already reached an average population density of 315 people per square kilometer and in some cities such as Soyapango we are already approximately 16,835 people per square kilometer.

It is no coincidence then that in this city and in others such as San Salvador and La Libertad with equal or less overcrowding levels, we are experiencing the highest rates of uncontrollable viral and bacterial epidemic waves, which is occurring due to the high degree of destruction of the environment that we have already caused by the irresponsibility of the Government

3) Solid waste production:

The environmentally unhealthy situation becomes much more complicated when we experience a noticeable increase in the production of solid waste, which according to MARN, in 2005 reached an average of 2,715 tons per day throughout the national territory, of which the Area Metropolitana de San Salvador produces an average of 1,175 tons per day.

When these solid wastes enter a state of putrefaction, they produce gases and resin that, when they come into contact and mix with water, contaminate it, being highly harmful to human health that ingests it.

Gases and resin that also contain a lot of faeces carried by runoff and that by contaminating the water of the surface and underground mantles are the main cause of gastrointestinal epidemics.

In addition, when they are watered and left on the ground by the population and not collected by the services provided by the Municipal Mayors, they are dragged by the increase in runoff from rainwater that ends up obstructing the drains of the water systems. drainage in the cities, causing the floods, disasters and tragedies that we are already seeing in the most vulnerable communities of the cities, such as what happened in the south and center of San Salvador last year and so far this winter .

4) Production of sewage:

The discarded production of fecal water thrown raw without any treatment into the rivers by ANDA and industrial companies, is another of the serious problems that we face in the country that are polluting the waters of the aquifers from which we source.

This discarded water already reaches an average annual production (according to ANDA reports) of 450 million cubic meters, of which in the AMSS, 130 million are produced that are released into the Acelhuate river and that is increasing the levels of contamination with Millions of bacteria, fecal waste and radioactive chemical substances, raising the levels of environmental unhealthiness, which added to the levels of pollution exerted by oxygen smog, are the main cause of many deaths in the country.

According to the Ministry of Health, this increase in multiple polluting substances has already contaminated more than 90% of the rivers of the entire National territory, being in 2005 the cause of care for 220,000 patients in hospitals throughout the country and is the main cause of the death of more than 12,000 children a year, due to diseases directly related to water and air pollution.

5) The increase in the vehicle fleet:

With the increase in the vehicle fleet, which, according to the Vice Ministry of Transportation, already reaches 600,000 circulating throughout the National Territory, of which 380,000 circulate in the AMSS and the existence of geothermal and industrial factories, a quantity of photochemical Smog is produced in urbanized regions that it is highly harmful to human health.

In a normal situation of the atmosphere, the temperature falls with the altitude, which favors the warmer air (less dense) to rise and drag the pollutants upwards.

In a thermal situation, a layer of warmer air is placed over the colder surface air and prevents the latter from rising (denser), so the pollution is locked in and increases.

The photochemical reactions that originate this type of phenomena occur when the mixture of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons, emitted by automobiles and atmospheric oxygen, occurs, which react induced by sunlight in a complex reaction system that ends up forming ozone .

Ozone is a very reactive molecule that continues to react with other pollutants in the air, and ends up forming a set of several dozen different substances such as peroxyacyl nitrate, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radicals, formaldehyde, etc.

Together, these substances can cause serious damage to plants, eye irradiation, respiratory problems, etc.

In the case of our country, mainly in the AMSS, the production of photochemical smog has increased in the last 20 years, especially as a result of the increase in the vehicle fleet and the existence of factories and geothermal plants such as Nejapa power, which launch into the air Free, large quantities of these substances without any control and environmental repair by the Government that prevents them, which is already affecting the quality of life of the population closest to the place.

b) Main conclusions:

1) The foregoing is spilling over into a serious deterioration of living conditions and social insecurity in general, with a greater level of impact for the population living in regions and areas of high risk and environmental vulnerability, where the level of unhealthy is much more serious.

2) A situation of environmental unhealthiness that has its impact on other crises such as the economic crisis, the social insecurity crisis and the political legal crisis, etc., which are rooted in a serious structural problem of the neoliberal system that the governments of turn, which is not corresponding to the serious problems experienced by the vast majority of the population.

3) The violation of the Constitutional mandate of the Republic expressed in art. 117 and 144 by the Government in all its primary and secondary orders, depending on whether its mercantile interests prevail, it has become a daily practice that has already placed us in a situation of insurmountable vulnerability of the Salvadoran rule of law, trampling rights fundamentals of people.

4) Said articles express: art. 117 “It is the duty of the State to protect natural resources, as well as the biodiversity and integrity of the environment, to guarantee sustainable development.

The protection, conservation, rational use, restoration or substitution of natural resources is declared of social interest, in the terms established by the LAW ”.

And art. 144, obliges him to comply with and enforce the international agreements and treaties related to the Salvadoran environment.

With this destructive action for the environment, the Government also manipulates the Environmental Law, Forestry Law, Hydrocarbons Law, Law of Prevention and Disaster Mitigation, Law of Protected Natural Areas, Law of development and territorial ordering of the AMSS and Municipalities Surroundings and Municipal Ordinances related to Laws that establish the areas of maximum environmental protection.

With this destructive action on the environment by the Government, which is currently expressing itself in man-made disasters in the most vulnerable high-risk regions of the country, especially in the RMSS, which constitutes the violation of the legal framework by the executive that supports their responsibility to commit a crime by breaking the laws, an action that is also causing the crime of environmental damage characterized in article 266 of the penal code, against which their public officials should already be responding to the law, in a real state of law , as established in articles 235, 244 and 245 of our constitution.

c) Main Recommendations:

1) Design and promote reforestation strategies that are aimed at rescuing the hydrographic basins, from the agony to which we have led them. Strategies that to guarantee greater success in their application and results, must be accompanied by the promotion of intense education campaigns on the importance of protection and care by the population.

2) Massive the promotion of sewage treatment projects, before they are thrown raw into the rivers.

3) Promote solid waste recycling projects, by separating them from home, with the participation of the population in order to bring them to a state of zero waste.

4) Regulate the circulation of individual cars, in days and hours, improving and prioritizing collective transport.

5) The Hydrocarbons Law must be applied to cars, industrial factories and geothermal plants, in order to maintain effective control over the emission of photochemical smog.

6) The Environmental Law, Forestry Law, etc., must be applied and the development and land use law for the country must be drawn up, which allows us to obtain effective control over land use in a technical way.

7) The indiscriminate felling of trees in the countryside and the City must be definitively prohibited.

Those responsible for cutting down trees should be punished through the application of the Law as Criminals of the country's ecological system. It does not matter if they were public officials of the Government.

8) For the government to enjoy moral and legal solvency in the application of the Law, it must assume its share of responsibility for the level of destruction caused to the country by compensating the victims of anthropic disasters.

Thank you very much.
Miguel Ángel Alvarado.

Association of Communities Affected by the Peripheral Ring, ACAPb. Member of the Association of Environmental Communities of El Salvador, ACAES.

San Salvador August 15, 2006



  1. Kigagar

    In it something is. Many thanks for the information, now I will not commit such error.

  2. Lorimar

    don't remember

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