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article imageDrought parches El Salvador

By John Sevigny     Apr 24, 2016 in Environment
San Salvador - Citing lack of rain, the Salvadoran government has declared a drought emergency as rivers and lakes have dropped to record levels and many are going days without running water.
President Salvador Sanchez Ceren said rainfall has been scarce over the past few years, according to Reuters. Residents on the outskirts of the city are marching and blocking roads in protest of water taxes, restrictions, and what they say are abuses by factories protested
The country's environmental and natural resources minister, Lina Pohl, also cited contamination as a major problem, saying 95 percent of water found at the level of the earth's surface is polluted.
"Studies have been done by the Environmental Minister in which there is an exact photograph that shows we are at the the point of having a water emergency," President Sanchez Ceren said at a press conference.
The emergency declaration, the first ever in the tiny, impoverished nation's history, allows the government to access millions of dollars to dig new wells, buy and repair pumps and run new canals to serve communities with little or no water service.
In the meantime, many, including the Roman Catholic Church, are joining protests calling for legislation that would guarantee all Salvadorans have a right to clean drinking water.
Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas blamed private industry for using and contaminating water sources.
"Water cannot be an object of commerce and people cannot be deprived if it," he said. "We cannot do this with water. It must be an element that all of us care for, protect and use."
El Salvador is in the midst of multiple threats to public safety including continuing violence between gangs and police, an outbreak of the Zika virus, and now, a drought.
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