commitment for life2The Church also supports Christian Aid and its work through the URC’s partner organisation Commitment For Life, and in particular this Church has been supporting ongoing work in Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador).

Central America has high levels of economic inequality. Christian Aid’s regional approach works because of the close economic, social and political ties between the four countries, leading to coherent programming, links between partners and other allies across the region, and shared learning.

 

El Salvador Tiny, but densely populated, the gap between the poor majority and rich elite is huge. The country suffered through years of bitter civil war (1980-1992). It is highly susceptible to natural disasters and is one of the most violent countries in the World. Through a rights-based approach, addressing the structural causes of vulnerability and exclusion, not just the symptoms, Christian Aid partners work with poor communities who are marginalised, landless or living at subsistence level – prioritising women, youth and ethnic groups who have historically been excluded and discriminated against. Training helps communities to become resilient in the face of climate change and gang, gender and institutional violence. They aim to help people to understand fiscal justice, resilience, inequality and violence prevention issues, and how to apply them to their lives.

Guatemala Despite being considered a middle-income country, and the fifth largest exporter of coffee and sugar in the World, many people here still suffer horrific poverty. It is a country of contrasts with flooding and drought, wealth and poverty, agricultural exports and food shortages.

Half of all children are malnourished, permanently affecting physical and mental development. Levels of maternal mortality, among the highest in the region, have not dropped in 15 years. Twenty-five years on from the Central American Peace Accords, poverty, violence, environmental vulnerability and widespread inequality remain serious challenges.

Christian Aid partners champion tax justice, and have gained strong experience on the issue through work with key organisations. Guatemala has very high levels of crime and gang violence which affect security and the rule of law. Women and young people are especially vulnerable because of gender-based violence and the exclusion of young-people. Both groups face high unemployment and poor access to healthcare, education and culture. Much work is done helping people find employment, self-worth and a greater understanding of how to build a society free from violence.

 

Honduras had been making steady progress reducing poverty, but after a coup in June 2009, violence escalated – much of it against women, journalists and human rights defenders. Land issues, economic inequality, corruption and political instability block progress, along with environmental and climate change issues.

Christian Aid partners are helping communities prepare for disasters, protect what remains of Honduran rainforest and support small rural businesses to thrive and grow. Vulnerable communities are now better prepared to face storms because of the implementation of early warning systems and community action plans.

They have gained experience on the issue of tax and the need for transparency. They have used policy expertise to create resources such as a tax toolkit to support organisations working on tax. The holistic approach to resilience is recognised by partners and some government officials as pioneering in the region.

 

Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere after Haiti. One of three countries in the World worst affected by weather catastrophes, the UN has warned that storms here will only get worse.

There has been a pioneering holistic approach to issues. Christian Aid was the first non-governmental organisation in Central America to champion tax justice, and have gained strong experience through work with key organisations. Their programme intends to tackle violence and build peace seeking responses from municipal governments and public institutions in providing a safe environment and protection for communities affected by violence, in addressing human rights violations by security forces, and seeking increased ring-fencing of resources for violence prevention and a more integrated response by the various agencies with special attention to youth and women. As in other areas their programmes seek to ensure that girls and women have reduced risk of violence and are more resilient to respond to violence, also that the survivors have more access to justice and protection from public institutions, including access to essential services.

From Commitment For Life Information