Sonsonate, capital of the department of the same name, has a population of roughly 72,000 and is located in western El Salvador.
The city is an active commercial centre and is surrounded by coffee plantations. But many here have to resort to working in the informal sector – selling merchandise or homemade food on the streets. This means longer working hours and less security, and it can have detrimental effects on family stability and the well-being of children.
Since 1972, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Sonsonate.
In rural areas of El Salvador, children have traditionally helped with agricultural tasks, and they continue to do so in the coffee plantations around Sonsonate.
In 2020, 88,300 children between the ages of 5 and 17 were working across the country – more than 60% of them lived in rural communities and 34% didn’t attend school.
The harvesting of coffee in particular involves dangerous tasks, and law enforcement agencies lack sufficient resources to enforce child labour laws. Child labour interferes with children’s education and their healthy physical and psychological development.
In a country already regularly affected by earthquakes, droughts, floods, hurricanes and volcano eruptions, climate change is adding to the existing hazards. In this tropical climate, it is estimated to significantly affect agricultural productivity, causing losses in cereal and sugar cane harvests.
El Salvador will possibly be the country hit harder in the coffee sector than any other country in the world, with a loss of more than 35% of coffee-growing areas. It is the future of the local children which is at stake here, it is they who are threatened by a decrease of resources and economic opportunities later in life.