Decades of civil wars and a lack of long-term public education policies, among other problems, have made higher education in Central America precarious and costly in general.
In this region, made up of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama, home to some 50 million inhabitants, the quality of education offered by public and private universities is poor, while costs are high even for those who can afford them.
The effects of El Niño on agriculture in Central America are once again putting pressure on thousands of small farmer families who are feeling more vulnerable economically and in terms of food, as they lose their crops, due to climate change.
Pregnancies among girls and adolescents continue unabated in Central America, where legislation to prevent them, when it exists, is a dead letter, and governments are influenced by conservative sectors opposed to sex education in schools.
A group of preschool students enthusiastically planted cucumbers and other vegetables in their small school garden in southern El Salvador, a sign that school feeding programs are being revived as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Central America is an impoverished region rife with gang violence and human trafficking - the third largest crime industry in the world - as a major source of migrants heading towards the United States.
Like an octopus, metals mining has been spreading its tentacles throughout Central America and dealing a blow to the region's agriculture and natural ecosystems, according to affected villagers, activists and a new report on the problem.
A few months ago, Candelario de JesúsChiquillo Cruz reached Mexico's southern border and ran into a fence reinforced with barbed wire, while a barrier of police officers sprayed him with gas. Today, he is walking freely over the bridge that crosses the Suchiate River, a natural border with Guatemala.
Disconsolate, Alberto Flores piles up on the edge of a road the few bunches of plantains that he managed to save from a crop spoiled by heavy rains that completely flooded his farm in central El Salvador.
La Carpio is an island of poverty on the outskirts of Costa Rica's capital, surrounded by the country's most polluted waters – the Torres River - on one side and a massive garbage dump on the other.
Having a seven-litre container with a filter on the dining room table that purifies the collected rainwater, and opening a small valve to fill a cup and quench thirst, is almost revolutionry for Salvadoran peasant farmer Víctor de León.
Jazziel Baca lives in the municipality of Esquías, in western Honduras, one of the areas hardest hit by the southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis), which damaged almost 500,000 hectares of forest in that Central American country between 2013 and 2015.
Countries in Central America are working to strengthen their regional electricity infrastructure to boost their exchange of electricity generated from renewable sources, which are cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
If the impact of drought and poverty in the municipalities of the so-called Dry Corridor in Nicaragua continues pushing the agricultural frontier towards the Caribbean coast, by the year 2050 this area will have lost all its forests and nature reserves, experts predict.
Trying to make it into the United States as an undocumented migrant is not such an attractive option anymore for Moris Peña, a Salvadoran who was deported from that country in 2014.
“Donald Trump will not stop me from getting to the U.S.,” said Juan, a 35-year-old migrant from Nicaragua, referring to the Republican president-elect who will govern that country as of Jan. 20.
The seventh consecutive nomination of Daniel Ortega as the governing party’s candidate to the presidency in Nicaragua, and the withdrawal from the race of a large part of the opposition, alleging lack of guarantees for genuine elections, has brought about the country’s worst political crisis since the end of the civil war in 1990.
For decades, the countries of Central America have borne the heavy impact of extreme climate phenomena like hurricanes and severe drought. Now, six of them are demanding that the entire planet recognise their climate vulnerability.
Central America’s toolbox to pull 23 million people – almost half of the population – out of poverty must include three indispensable tools: universal access to water, a sustainable power supply, and adaptation to climate change.
Twenty-eight years ago this month, an indigenous woman stood in the plaza in Guatemala City, watching as the presidents of Central America walked out into the street after signing the Peace Accords that would end the civil wars in our region. When I reached her, she took both my hands in hers and said, “Thank you, Mr. President, for my child who is in the mountains fighting, and for the child I carry in my womb.”
Central America, a place of abundant wind and sunshine, is still chained to thermal power and large-scale hydroelectricity and has failed to include local communities in clean, environmentally-friendly and less invasive projects.
Nicaragua, the Central American country with the most abundant water sources, and where water – “agua” in Spanish – is even part of its name, is suffering one of its worst water crises in half a century, fuelled by climate change, deforestation and erosion.