Our 2 weeks in El Salvador has now ended. Our investigation, on the effects of Climate Change in El Salvador and climate change resilience has now been closed. We have interviewed coffee growers, turtle minders,community activists, political activists, and many every day Salvadorans. In this blog post, I want to describe our trip to Tirana, in the lower Lempa.
The community of La Tirana sits where the Lempa, the biggest river in the country, meets the pacific. It is a close community of about 25 families, who moved to the area after the peace accords of 1992 which brought an end to war in El Salvador.
The community is literally in the front line of the battle against climate change. Rising sea levels represent a serious threat to the local mangrove forest. The forest protects the community from the pacific. But is also economically important. Crabs which breed in the waters around the mangroves are disappearing as the mangroves are swallowed up by the rising sea and covered in sand deposited by the waves. The water supply for the small local community is now also under threat by the encroaching sea.
Travelling through the local tributary of the Lempa to the mouth of the pacific by canoe, the scene could not be clearer. The mangrove forest, once a home to a thriving population of spider monkeys, is disappearing. The Spider monkey population has been severely depleted. The panters and pumas who once populated the area becoming a distant memory.
Dr. Ricardo Navarro,of CESTA, the local branch of friends of the earth, described how know the rising levels are a consequence of climate change and how this problem is caused by wealthy, mass carbon producing countries. Central America is responsible for only 0.3% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.
The community of La Tirana is well organised and has deep links with social organisation here, including the Irish NGO Trocaire. But it is literally battling against a tide.