Central America, South America & the Caribbean

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CRS in Central America, South America & the Caribbean

Catholic Relief Services works in 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

CRS provides people with access to health care and education, helps tens of thousands of farmers improve their productivity and environmental resilience in the face of climate change, and assists communities in preparing for and responding to natural disaster.

CRS also works with the Catholic Church and civil society partners to defend indigenous people and labor rights, and to uphold the rights of migrants across the region through humanitarian assistance, education and advocacy.

CRS programming in Latin America and the Caribbean focuses on satisfying critical and immediate basic needs through disaster relief, health services and viable agriculture options. Meeting and responding thoughtfully and responsibly to human needs begins to address the long-term and structural factors that make poverty a chronic problem in the region.

Because this area is prone to hurricanes, earthquakes and droughts, CRS empowers communities to carefully plan and respond effectively to disasters. Coordinating with local government and community groups, we develop and raise awareness about emergency plans. In the Caribbean, youth emergency action committees put young people to work mapping out evacuation routes and setting up emergency shelters. In rural areas, CRS helps farmers improve soil quality, protect vital water sources and replant areas prone to landslides and flooding.

We have also used our emergency and disaster preparedness experience to develop other programming. Building upon the large-scale water programming we implemented in response to Hurricane Mitch, CRS has developed an expertise in watershed management, an innovative and holistic approach that empowers communities to protect and better manage their water resources.

Our projects also create the conditions that allow small-scale farmers to enter into and thrive in stable and more profitable markets. Sixty percent of people in rural areas live below the poverty line. For more than half of them, agriculture is the main source of income. We customize interventions to address specific, critical needs.

CRS builds value chains that support poor farmers on a large scale. The El Salvador Cacao Alliance, a CRS-led collaboration of private companies, government and research institutions, is transforming El Salvador into a source of cacao for the gourmet international market. The 3-year project will boost the incomes of 10,000 farm families and create 26,000 jobs.

We fight hunger and nutrition through targeted programs that provide food. To encourage the consumption of nutritious foods, we teach families how to establish family gardens and educate them about the care and consumption of domestic livestock. We work with health centers to immunize children and treat malnutrition-related illnesses.

Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean face some very high-profile challenges including poverty, gang and youth violence, social conflicts, human trafficking and unaccompanied children leaving their homeland.

To target the root causes of migration, CRS invests in youth, who play a crucial role in transforming their communities. YouthBuilders, CRS’ flagship program, has helped more than 4,000 young people in Central America build vocational and life skills so they can find jobs or start small businesses.

CRS has more than 200 partners in Latin America and the Caribbean. All CRS projects are designed to strengthen the ability of local communities to meet their own needs and to work more effectively with their local governments.

As you explore the countries in which CRS works, we hope you see the tremendous potential behind the programs, stories and especially the people we’re privileged to serve.