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EL SALVADOR: Increase In Poverty By Soaring Food Prices

By Raul Gutierrez San Salvador, Oct 6 2008 (IPS)

In the village of Talchiga in northeastern El Salvador, 20 families live in wooden shacks with earth floors, have no piped water, electricity or sewer services, and suffer from high levels of malnutrition. The village is in the remote mountainous department (province) of Morazán, on the border with Honduras and 200 km from San Salvador, one of the areas that was most affected by the 1980-1992 civil war. But while the armed conflict is long over, conditions have not improved in this village located 900 metres above sea level, where the dire poverty contrasts with the fresh mountain air and the natural beauty of the small rivers and streams that run over the rough terrain around the community. The villagers also complain that large landowners are trying to seize control over the land where their grandparents "were born and died." Nearly all of the village’s 100 people, 60 of whom are women and children, complain that they do not have enough land to farm, and that the land they do have is poor. And since they cannot afford fertilisers, their harvests of corn are scanty. In El Salvador, where around 42 percent of the population lives in poverty, the people of Talchiga are among those hardest hit by the rise in food prices over the last year and a half. Lucila López, a 27-year-old mother whose five children are between the ages of seven months and 12 years, said the soaring prices mean that she is frequently unable to offer her family anything other than "tortillas with salt," and complained that beans have become a luxury item, at a cost of a dollar per pound (just under half a kilo). Sometimes "we only eat twice a day," said López, whose gap-toothed smile clearly reflects a lack of calcium after nursing each one of her children up to the age of two. Corn tortillas and beans form the basis of the Salvadoran rural diet.













< a family is forced to live outside after their home is destroyed by an earthquake.