More than 32,000 Salvadorans affected by COVID-19 and tropical storms receive food assistance from USAID


San Salvador, October 20, 2020 – Over 32,300 people living in 21 municipalities of El Salvador’s Dry Corridor, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and by the damage caused by tropical storms Amanda and Cristóbal, are receiving food assistance from the Government of El Salvador, the Government of the United States, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

Thanks to USAID’s $3 million support, since September 21, beneficiaries are receiving cash transfers to buy their food in local businesses. The stipend will be delivered for three months, through two cash deliveries made by the WFP, through a network of financial service providers nationwide. These deliveries are made respecting biosecurity measures to reduce the possibility of COVID-19 contagion.

 “For more than 50 years, the WFP has been saving lives in emergencies and providing hope to millions of people thanks to key donors at the global and local levels such as USAID,” said WFP Officer-in-Charge in El Salvador, Jaakko Valli, during the launch ceremony of this initiative. “This donation allows us to provide support to the most vulnerable people and empower them to choose nutritious foods and support the local economy,” he added.

US Ambassador to El Salvador, Ronald Johnson, stated that “we cannot control natural disasters; we cannot control when or where they occur. But we can do a lot to mitigate risks and help with recovery if we all join forces and work together.”

The Salvadoran Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alexandra Hill, thanked the support and solidarity of both donors: “In difficult times, USAID and WFP have always been with us and this is not the exception. On behalf of President Bukele, I thank you for this gesture, rest assured that this aid will reach those most in need.”

This monetary support allows participants to buy nutritious food for their families in their community markets, thus activating the local economy and reinforcing coexistence among neighbors. The selection of beneficiaries has been carried out by the WFP along with the National Civil Protection Directorate, as well as NGO partners Educo, Plan International, Save the Children and World Vision.

The damage caused by tropical storms Amanda and Cristóbal in May and June this year, plus the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, have reduced the ability of the most vulnerable families to bring enough quality food home. According to a WFP nationwide assessment in August, 380,000 people are unable to buy enough food for their families.

The Dry Corridor is an extensive area that runs parallel to the Pacific coast from Chiapas, Mexico, to western Panama, leaving arid lands also in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and part of Costa Rica. This area comprises 90 percent of the population of Central America and is frequently impacted by climatic phenomena such as droughts and floods (FAO, 2019).

About the World Food Program:

The United Nations World Food Program is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and providing food assistance to build a path to peace, stability and prosperity in populations recovering from conflicts, disasters and the impact of climate change.

About Assistance for Tropical Storm Amanda and COVID-19:

Since March, the WFP together with its partners and donors from international cooperation, the private sector and the United Nations system have supported the Government of El Salvador with food assistance to 149,300 vulnerable people affected by the double emergency through cash transfers and food delivery.

The WFP has provided assistance to vulnerable populations: families living in poverty impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, people with disabilities, women heads of households, internally displaced people, young people and people living from non-formal jobs who do not have the resources to buy food.