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Combating Climate Change by Building Resilient Communities

We believe that local communities are in the best position to build peace, sustain livelihoods, and ensure the viability of their resources.

Photo of Ana Luisa Ahern

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Climate change is a reality in El Salvador. As vulnerable coastal communities face environmental degradation, dwindling resources, and a breakdown in security, they must come up with innovative solutions to ensure sustainable income sources, protect natural resources, and rebuild community cohesion. Climate change is a global problem with local consequences, and local organizations are on the front-lines of confronting the problem. Local organizations are the first to respond to emergencies such as violent storms and floods, and also represent the most vulnerable communities when they need help the most. EcoViva will work with the Mangrove Association to strengthen social and economic resilience in the face of a rapidly changing climate by mitigating the effects of flooding and drought, providing technical assistance to ensure long-term livelihoods, and building local capacity to promote climate-smart, peaceful communities. We will enable communities to become more climate resilient, integrate climate preparedness strategies into existing risk management and disaster preparedness plans, improve long-term infrastructure and water supply plans, and protect natural resources, economic livelihoods, and people from an intensifying climate. We will strengthen local solutions to the immediate effects of a changing climate by organizing community efforts to restore 120 acres of mangrove forest that provide protection from severe weather events, protect critical habitat and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. We will provide funding, alliance-building and technical support to enforce and expand clear, community-based regulations for environmental protection and sustainable fishery practices that mitigate climate change impacts and ensure long-term livelihoods. We will promote a culture of peace through positive community-building events, workshops, and a regional march for peace that brings people together to fight for a common cause: peace, prosperity, and the planet.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries for this project are traditionally under-served rural communities along the coast of El Salvador. EcoViva partners with over 125 historically underserved rural communities in the Bajo Lempa, a region surrounding the Bay of Jiquilisco, in the department of Usulután, El Salvador. The majority of the over 7,000 families and 35,000 people residing in the area subsist on small-scale agriculture and artisanal fisheries that are dependent on the health of the coastal environment. Nearly 45% of these rural households live in poverty, while a third of them suffer from extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1 a day. Provided few alternatives in a stagnant rural economy, this population subsists on small-scale agriculture and artisanal fisheries, including a variety of fish, shrimp, shellfish, and land crabs, that are dependent on the health of the natural environment.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Our idea is unique because it places local community capacity at its center. Many solutions to the problems of climate change and insecurity rely on technology or outside interventions. Our idea relies on the inherent capacity of cohesive, strong communities to provide innovative solutions to pressing problems they face. Our approach is unique because it allows us to provide resources and support directly to the communities who stand to gain from sustainable livelihoods and are also in the best position to protect natural resources. Our collaboration with grassroots partners ensures that local capacity is built to meet the evolving challenges of climate change and empowers historically underserved communities to accomplish their own goals and manage their own resources. Through this inclusive project, community members will be active in the management and conservation of the environment to ensure a just, equitable and sustainable way of life for the people of El Salvador.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Full Scale Roll Out: I have already tested and scaled this idea significantly with the intended user base.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

EcoViva supports community-led social justice movements in Central America implementing innovative solutions to poverty, environmental degradation, and climate change.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

EcoViva has partnered with the Mangrove Association in El Salvador for over 20 years. Together, we have built a democratic movement for peace, social justice and environmental sustainability. Community participation at the grassroots is the foundation of our work, and peace building is at the heart of advancing our global society. This project bridges all three themes that are important to us and our partners, peace, prosperity, and the planet.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Climate change is one of the most critical threats to peace, security, and socio-economic wellbeing. Peace and security are impacted by social unrest, mass migration, and political turmoil. Crime increases as resources become scarce and competition becomes fierce. Prosperity is impacted by environmental degradation and loss of critical habitat to support sustainable livelihoods. The planet is impacted by volatile weather conditions such as prolonged droughts and an increase in the frequency and severity of natural disasters, as well as unsustainable resource extraction and unregulated development. El Salvador bears the brunt of global climate change, while contributing little to its underlying causes. 90% of El Salvador is at risk from climate related events and 95% of the population lives in areas considered to be extremely vulnerable to climate change threats. Urgent action is needed to ensure sustainable livelihoods, build climate resilient communities, and improve food security.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

EcoViva works in partnership with grassroots organizations in Central America to promote economic and environmental sustainability, social justice and peace. For over 20 years, our partnerships have provided support to community-based organizations in the region, focusing most of our activities in the Bay of Jiquilisco, El Salvador. This project is a collaboration with local community organizations, local grassroots NGO the Mangrove Association, the Salvadoran Ministry of the Environment (MARN), the Salvadoran Fisheries Authority (CENDEPESCA) and scientists at the Marine Sciences Institute of the University of El Salvador (ICMARES).

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The coastal community of El Salvador’s Bay of Jiquilisco is well-suited to carry out this project because of their history of community organizing, peace-building, and co-management of natural resources. The region is home to Central America’s most extensive mangrove forest, a critical ecosystem in the fight against climate change. They are in the best position to protect this vulnerable resource while ensuring sustainable traditional livelihoods and promoting a culture of peace and security.

Geographic Focus

Communities in the Bay of Jiquilisco/Bajo Lempa region, department of Usulután, El Salvador, CA

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

24 months

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of David Ezra Jay

Hello Ana, Cool project. We love carbon trapping trees and should probably connect. I am working with to build a network of smallholder tree planters. We are currently linking organizations that collect funds for trees directly to tree planters. I'd love to connect with you and see how we can collaborate.

Photo of Ana Luisa Ahern

Hi Ezra Jay thank you for your comment! Greenstand sounds like a very interesting organization and I would love to hear more about your work. We also work with the Salvadoran Ministry of the Environment on tree planting initiatives including the "Plantatón," a nationwide push to plant 5 million trees. In a country as severely deforested as El Salvador, every tree we plant helps prevent erosion, turn rainwater in groundwater, and contribute to a healthy watershed. This initiative may be more aligned to your organization's goals as there are individual trees that can be tracked. The mangrove restoration work we do relies on mother nature to do the planting for us - the technique we use is called Ecological Mangrove Restoration and, using sound-science and community participation, it restores the area's natural hydrology, allowing the mangrove propagules (seedlings) to travel via tidal ebbs and flows to the location where they will have the best chance of survival and the wetland will regenerate naturally. Let me know if you are interested in learning more about our work in El Salvador!

Photo of David Ezra Jay

Hi Ana,
Good work on the Mangroves. I love mangroves and I like your approach. Nature can do a great job. We have not seen the need to track Mangroves as unlike most tree planting efforts mangroves seem to survive.

A push of 5 Million trees is awesome. This is the kind of data we are setting up to process. I would love to be in touch with the Salvadoran Ministry of the environment. If you are interested in connecting us, please do so via email

Photo of Ana Luisa Ahern

Will do!

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