Recipe for success
Building resilience and securing livelihoods for Salvadoran families
Marina Claros’ family is preparing a healthy lunch, with plenty of vegetables and no oil. Her sister-in-law, Armida, is making corn and carrot tortillas while her uncle Maximiliano busies himself with a pitcher of peppermint lemonade.
Set out on the kitchen table is Marina’s favorite salad — beans, chopped tomatoes, chili peppers, onions, greens and lemon — which she and her family just finished making together. “It’s easy, quick to make, and nutritious,” says Marina.
She learned the recipe at a community cooking class in Masala, in the Salvadoran department of Morazán.
A nutritionist taught her, Maximiliano and other participants to avoid using stock to add flavour to their dishes and to start using leafy greens, which they had not thought about despite having them readily at hand. “We value them now because green leaves contain quite a lot of iron that, for instance, can help combat anaemia in children,” says Marina.
A mother of four, Marina grows chipilín — a local leafy green — blackberries, cilantro, maidenhair and other herbs in her family garden. She also grows a variety of fruits and vegetables that help diversify her diet, save money at the market and generate some extra income when she can sell the surplus. To do this in such a drought-stricken area, she has an irrigation system in her yard that also harvests water.
“They have suffered from continuous droughts here,” remarks Luis Bran, coordinator for the World Food Programme (WFP)’s project for resilience against climate change in El Salvador “and families are making a big effort.”
Measures like reforestation, soil restoration, building water reservoirs and diversifying production toward orchards on community plots are being put into place to help alleviate the situation in the Dry Corridor. One of the benefits for the families is that they have basic grains, orchards and vegetable patches. “There is an improvement in the nutritional quality of the family diet and an increased availability of food,” says Bran.
Seizing an opportunity
Marina loves to learn, so she took advantage of many of the project’s training workshops. She now knows about grafting, healthy eating, soil conservation, and how to use stones and plants to create barriers against erosion. Marina, along with some of her neighbors, received training on how to become a forest firefighter.
Project participants do the out-of-house work in teams. They take shifts in the community’s composting plant and in the communal greenhouse. Responsibilities include water conservation and reforestation, among others.
“They have suffered from continuous droughts here, and the effort that families make is very big.”
“Families make the largest contribution because they have to spend their workdays creating assets,” explains Bran. They generate their own means of sustenance with the support of specific resources that align with needs they have identified themselves. The positive impact of their work can be seen in the environment, and also in their incomes and diets.
Marina’s favorite part of the project is the opportunity that it gives the community for sharing and leadership. “Sometimes one lives in the community, but cannot seem to live alongside its people,” she explains. Another important aspect is the active role that women have even in fieldwork. The groups are made up of men and women and “each has developed respect for one another.”
Esperanza Vigil, one of Marina’s partners in the project, agrees. She and her neighbors can now use the shovel and other tools. After seeing the women successfully working side-by-side, the men are also changing their attitudes. “They no longer treat us like a female object and, what’s more, they teach us,” says Esperanza.
Thanks to the support of the European Union, WFP works to build the resilience and secure the livelihoods of 900 Honduran families in the Dry Corridor.
This article is part of a series produced by WFP and the social media team of the United Nations.
Learn more more about El Niño Response in the Dry Corridor of Central America (PRO-ACT)