The second largest city in El Salvador, Santa Ana is located 64 kilometres northwest of San Salvador, the capital city, and has approximately 375,000 inhabitants. Surrounded by green hills, most people work in the service industry or live off coffee farming.
But local families often face difficult socio-economic conditions. Organized crime leads to violence and insecurity, and the safety, health and education of children must be ensured to achieve long-term improvement and a peaceful society.
Since 1985, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Santa Ana.
Between 2001 and 2010, 45% of the urban growth in Santa Ana took place in informal settlements. That means that 45% of urban development happened in conditions that harmed the health, safety and opportunities of the residents.
In these slums there is a higher number of people living in poverty and vulnerable to crime. Lack of access to basic services is a common constraint. Families and children living in these inadequate homes have worse health, and lower chances of accessing any professional and educational opportunities available in the city.
Education is free, but in many cases parents can’t afford fees or uniforms, and so children do not go to school.
In El Salvador, 96% of children complete primary school. This is a good number but unfortunately only 44% make it to upper secondary school.
Around 4% of children across the country are working, and they often drop out of school. In some cities, and Santa Ana is one of them, there are night classes on offer, so that children can continue their education in spite of having to work.