Last week the United Nations Development Program office in El Salvador issued a several hundred page report on the urban slums of El Salvador. It is called the Map of Urban Poverty and Social Exclusion in El Salvador and consists of a narrative volume and a volume which maps the locations of "precarious" living conditions throughout the country.
The study focuses on the poorest areas in the urban parts of El Salvador which the report labels Precarious Urban Settlements. (acronym "AUP" for its initials in Spanish). The data in the report is drawn from the 2007 census in El Salvador. It is hoped that the detailed review of the residential living patterns of some of El Salvador's most marginalized citizens will be a tool for government planninng and intervention.
The results of the report were highlighted in an article in ContraPunto, loosely translated here:
The Map identifies 2508 AUPs in El Salvador where more than two million Salvadorans are living. More than half the urban population, therefore, live in housing that does not have acceptable conditions of access to basic services.
Depending on the levels of overcrowding, the materials houses are constructed from and their access to basic sanitation, and the accessibility for people living there to services like education, health or employment, the slum areas have been classified into four categories of precariousness: extreme, high, moderate and low.
Of the 2508 AUPs identified, approximately half (1,275) were classified as extremely precarious. In them live about 870,000 people, most of whom lack a home with minimal sanitation and whose ability to access basic services is very deficient...
Within the AUPs, the UNDP emphasizes the vulnerability for young people. Three quarters of people between 18 and 24 who live in these areas do not have academic access to higher education, ie who have not completed their primary education.
Because, as stated by the UNDP Resident Representative in El Salvador, Jessica Faieta, "the area where you live largely determines access to opportunities for education, health, work and play."
According to the Coordinator of the UNDP Human Development in El Salvador, William Pleitez, among youth who live in the slums there is a high dropout rate and that "many young people have their education interrupted by the need to find a job."
According to the report, the low level of education of these young people reduces their opportunities to access better jobs, thus perpetuating the cycle of poverty and exclusion.
Photo above is by photojournalist Jesus Flores in his photo essay about the marginalized community "Benediction of God." For more images of "precarious living," see the new photo essay at El Faro, Children of Poverty.