© 2011 Heather Bessette

Halfway there

We have reached a midpoint in our work here on the ground in El Salvador. The days have grown hotter and seemingly longer over the week and a half since we arrived. Our three project teams have spent the days solidifying the project goals and objectives with our partners within the organization and carrying out our work in the field.

The environmental team is working with five communities in the Bajo Lempa region with the goal of developing a community ecotourism plan.  The goal is to have a network of communities that will create a route for community ecotourism in the area.  In order to achieve this goal, we are meeting with the board of directors in each of the five communities:  Aguacate, San Jose, Isla de Mendez, Ceiba, and Llanos.  The goal of these meetings is to draw a map of the current ecotourism situation in the town, and follow with a futuristic map of where they would like to see their community in the future within the realm of ecotourism. These maps will be discussed by all community members using strategic questions that will contribute to a SWOT Analysis for each community.  After the environmental team meets individually with each community, we will then meet with all five communities together to visualize the maps together in order to see the possible tourist route, as well as devise a two-year strategic plan.

The Infrastructure team is working to develop a waste management model that can be customized to rural and protected environment areas that have limited resources.  We are using the Isla de Mendes region of El Salvador as our case study, where a yearlong waste management program had been implemented but failed due to a lack of sustainability and resources. The purpose of this model will be to establish specific guidelines in designing a Waste Management Plan that can be tested through a pilot program, and then adapted and customized to meet the needs of the various surrounding communities.

The production team is working to refine a diagnostic tool which La Coordinadora will use in order to create a database of information about the agricultural production practices and potential of the various communities of the Bajo Lempa. This tool will help La Coordinadora understand the current agricultural production capacity, level of diversification and knowledge about sustainable methods in the area. Additionally, we will be identifying certain indicators that will be used to assess the sustainability of the practices currently used in the area. We will use the diagnostic tool to survey a small sample of the community of Limonera, and use the data to create a workshop in order to train the Agricultural Production Program workers on how to use the tool and analyze the data they will obtain. The goal is to create a reliable, replicable tool that can be used to assess and compare all the communities of the Bajo Lempa so that La Coordinadora will be better able to serve them and gauge the potential for the creation of local markets.

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