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Ten Years Later: CHF’s Flood-Proof Buildings in El Salvador Still Going Strong

Published 11/22/2011 by Global Communities

Ten Years Later: CHF’s Flood-Proof Buildings in El Salvador Still Going Strong
By Milton Funes, CHF Honduras Country Director
The Lempa River is one of the largest rivers in El Salvador, in the Southern Department of Usulutan floods occurs each year as it happened weeks ago, affecting people’s lives, livelihoods as well as the local economy.
In 2000 CHF built schools and houses in the flood plains of the Lempa River in El Salvador, the following was part of an USAID report from that time:

PROGRAM: El Salvador

TITLE AND NUMBER: Reduced Vulnerability of Rural Poor to Natural Disasters in Target Areas

“The Cooperative Housing Foundation (CHF) has completed construction of 38 schools, 18 schools are under construction, 9 are in the bidding process and 17 are under design. The design, bidding and construction stages followed a thorough assessment made by CHF of the 250 schools located in the target area to determine eligibility and priorities. In high risk areas, some of these schools are designed to serve as safe havens in future floods. CHF is also focused on the rebuilding or constructing up to 44 community infrastructure projects of which 25 are finished, 6 are under construction, 5 in the bidding process and 8 are under design”.


“USAID is financing the construction or upgrading of 500 houses to make them more resistant to flooding. In some cases this involves building new units, while in other cases otherwise sturdy houses may be modified to provide refuge for people and belongings. CHF has completed the construction of 370 houses and another 122 are under construction. Designs are also in process for additional 8 houses.”


The houses are raised about 1 meter from the ground level; ceilings are higher than normal with a mezzanine (2.5 m high from internal floor level) where you can stock food and your must valuable assets. At the mezzanine level there’s an emergency exit window where from you can reach the roof, to get rescued.

The design is very smart and everybody talks about it in El Salvador, including the Ministry of Housing. Houses cost from that time was about US$ 2,500, today the same house could cost as much as double US$ 5,000.