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Supporting sustainable development in post-war El Salvador

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1 Author(s)
J. Heller ; 3826 Corliss Ave., Seattle, WA, USA

El Salvador is in the process of recovering from a brutal twelve year civil war. With the assistance of the United Nations, Peace Accords were signed in 1992, putting a stop to the fighting, but actually resolving few of the problems which led to the war in the first place in this tiny, heavily populated country. The war left El Salvador with a destroyed infrastructure, widespread poverty and illiteracy, a generation of young people accustomed to violence, huge numbers of refugees, and critical levels of deforestation and soil erosion. There are hundreds of organizations and government entities in El Salvador dedicated to development and trying to address some of the problems left by the war, but the majority are having limited success in creating long-term changes in the material conditions of life for the poor. Most often, development projects focus on technology transfer, looking for simplistic technical fixes and ignoring more deeply-rooted structural or cultural problems. If foreign organizations want to help they should support the local organizations, which are capable of providing culturally appropriate training, organization, and technical support to struggling communities. The author offers a case study of one such organization that employs a democratic model of development, based on the reality of the poor people. Employing such democratic models of development can create positive changes in people's lives that are truly environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable

Published in:

IEEE Technology and Society Magazine  (Volume:16 ,  Issue: 2 )