Arbor Assets
Central America

Central America has seen its share of challenges over the past several decades.   While some countries have seen sustained economic development, others have often oscillated between stagnation and unarguable deterioration.  El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua have spent much of the past half century rifling through civil wars, insurrections, external meddling, and waves of state terror.  Altogether, this violence cost over 300,000 lives, wrought havoc upon these countries’ civil institutions, and generally inhibited economic development for years on end.  Within the aftermath a security vacuum enabled the surges of violence surronding narcotics traffic to reach monstrous levels making parts of this mesoamerican corridor among the most violent in the entire world.

When measured by the Human Development Index - a composite statistic which collates data on life expectancy, literacy, education, and standard of living - El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, taken altogether, form a basin of poverty that is second only to Haiti in its severity and extent within the Western Hemisphere.  These countries post similarly bleak scores when gauged by the Environmental Performance Index, another composite measure focused on environmental health and ecosystem vitality.  (i)

Due to it’s unique vulnerability to hurricanes and storms emanating from both the Atlantic and Pacific tropics, Central America is considered to be one of the regions that is most affected by climate change in the world.  Central American governments and citizens operate under the cruel paradox of being among those least responsible for global climate change but most impacted by the resulting crises.  As these storms have become more severe over the last 30 years, their destruction has been compounded by poor land management practices leading to massive erosion, scoured watersheds, and dropping water tables.  The mountainous character of the region further intensifies the effect of these storms as more than 80% of land area in the region is threatened by potential landslides brought on by torrential rain.  Crop yields suffer both directly from these storms as well as from the effects from the steady attrition of micro-climates.  (ii),(iii),(iv)

However imperiled Central America may be, dire implications for its northern neighbors and the global community hang in the balance as well.  At risk within Central America’s environmental performance are not only localized concerns but a stunning 7% of all global biodiversity.  Similarly, the region’s grinding poverty impels waves of undocumented migrants northward to the U.S/Mexican border in numbers that have come to vastly exceed even Mexican migrants themselves.  (v),(vi)

At Arbor Assets, it is our hope to work with communities in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua in their efforts to achieve sustainable, endogenous water and food provision. Our models of assistance emphasize partnering with community water committees and helping to institute manageable, small-scale water initiatives that provide clean water for household and agricultural uses commensurate with downstream and future interests.  To support these aims, we have established capacities to loan finances to community water committees on a project-specific basis.  We have also established individualized micro-loan programs to be administered on a per-household basis.

                                                                                        



(i)  http://wikipedia.com: List of Countries by Human Development Index.

(ii)  Europe Aid:  Climate Change in Latin America; © Europe Aid; 2009 Belgium.

(iii) United Nations Commission for Latin America; http://reliefweb.int/node/376693; 12/1/2010.     

(iv) Reuters:  Central America Coffee Land to Shrink as Globe Warms; 5/19/2010.

(v) http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/centralamerica/index.htm.

(vi) New York Times:  Better Lives for Mexicans Cut the Allure of Going North; 7/6/2011.