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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

El Salvador 2005 Journal XVI Meeting with the Ambassador

The Development and Peace delegation outside the offices of the Canadian Embassy. Note the official-looking clothing for our visit!

The next day we finally met the Canadian Ambassador. We had been trying to arrange this visit for days. Just before a planned trip to the beach, we heard that this was the day for our meeting. We had been told that it was important to dress professionally for this encounter. No time for that. We arrived with beach towels and flippers to be ushered in to meet with the Canadian Ambassador, Gwyneth Ann Kutz.

This was a very interesting meeting. We had a good opportunity to present the philosophy and work of Development and Peace. We talked about the groups we had met with and discussed what we had learned in our meetings. All this information was new to the ambassador. In her time in El Salvador I don’t think there had been much of an opportunity for her to work with small NGO’s like Equipo Maiz and CRIPDES. This is really too bad, these groups are coming up with technical solutions for many of the problems that the Salvadoran people are experiencing.

The ambassador talked about the frustration the Canadian Government was having developing water projects in El Salvador. She noted that donors shy away from water projects because the issue of ownership is such a difficult one. People don’t want to pay for water, she said, and it is difficult to make them understand that they must pay. She also mentioned that the Canadian Aid agency, CIDA had to work through ANDA, the very corrupt Salvadoran water agency.

She also talked about the need to diversify agricultural production. She mentioned that tomatoes and coriander could be marketed while corn and beans should be bought from producers to the North.

It was very interesting to hear her opinions. She was very open with us and we appreciated her frankness. What we found curious was that there was very little understanding of the good work that is being done by local groups on water projects and crop diversification. It is more than a little frustrating that these small groups face funding challenges when they offer good local solutions to the problems faced by the Salvadoran people.

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