In 2009, during an El Niño event in Central America, an estimated 50-100% of crops were lost due to drought. This led to the term Dry Corridor being coined. The Central American Dry Corridor, stretching from Southern Mexico to Panama, is home to millions of people dependent on agriculture for survival. Extreme climate conditions have left the region vulnerable. Periods of drought that can last for months make farming a delicate operation. Then, when unpredictable heavy storms come, flooding and mudslides can instantly destroy what crops are left. Those living in the Dry Corridor are facing food insecurity and a socio-economic crisis. Local organizations, like Fundación Campo, and global organizations, like Oxfam, are joining forces to aid the communities of the Dry Corridor.
Fundación Campo is a nonprofit foundation based out of El Salvador that helps communities find ways to develop means of financial stability. As stated on their website, “Our focus is to work on sustainable living models, the strengthening of community organizations, the inclusion of young people, the improvement of basic community social infrastructure, the revitalization of local economies, and the protection of renewable natural resources.” Oxfam is a British organization overseeing 21 independent charities to eliminate inequality injustices, especially those inflicted by natural disasters such as climate related issues.
After weeks of coordinating, representatives from Fundación Campo and Oxfam met in October of 2021 just outside of the small town of San Antonio del Mosco in El Salvador. Situated 410meters above sea level over a 16.91square kilometer range, San Antonio del Mosco is home to a little more than 8,000 people, all of whom rely on agriculture for survival. Fundación Campo and Oxfam brought together 7 women to train them on using drones to help combat some of the troubles the community faces from climate change. As explained in a statement from Oxfam, the drones will “enable the women to monitor water levels in the rivers, crop growth in the fields, and areas badly affected by drought—without navigating all the rough terrain they’d otherwise need to travel.”
Before having the chance to fly the drones, the women got in depth training on drone technology. They had to learn the different ways a drone could be used, how to assemble and repair the drone, how to utilize any data taken by the drone, all safety protocols, and then finally, how to fly the drone. Ana Hernández, one of the program participants, said that at first she and the rest of the team were very intimidated by the drones. After taking time to learn about the benefits of drone technology, the motivation to help her community outweighed the anxiety of flying a drone.
Inmer Arguenta Ramos, a technician from Fundación Campo worked closely with the women to help them develop the drone program. She said that putting the drones in these women’s hands has given them more than just a tool to help monitor their land. “The women overcame their fear of using the technology,” Inmer said, “and it strengthened their self-esteem.” Inmer also said that the drone program will be useful in emergencies. When floods happen, the women will have the technology and training to assess damages and perform rescue missions, if need be.