Ken and Oli Johnstone Foundation
Kenoli Foundation is a private Canadian foundation that works to alleviate poverty and hunger by supporting organizations that build community self-sufficiency and advance human rights in four countries in Central America – El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. We focus on best practices that have been shown to make a difference in people’s lives and transform communities.
Prior to the world-wide pandemic of COVID-19, there have been slow, incremental improvements in the lives of the 40 million people living in these four countries. The gains have been lost and even reversed with the pandemic. According to the UN Economic Commission for Latin America there is a 10% loss in Gross National Product (GDP) which will lead to a 3% – 6.5% increase in the number of people living poverty. This means between 1.2 – 2.6 million more people will be living in poverty.
To make matters worse, in November 2020, Hurricanes Eta and Iota battered Nicaragua, Honduras and parts of Guatemala and El Salvador. The continued flooding affected the harvests and strained subsistence farmers, leading to food shortages in 2021. The relentless rain downed dozens of bridges and damaged more than 1,400 roads in the region. Tens of thousands lost their homes and access to clean water, all in the middle of the pandemic. These natural disasters, likely as a consequence of climate change, only increase people’s vulnerabilities, further leading to increasing poverty.
Kenoli responded with humanitarian aid to assist the communities with which we work to meet their basic survival needs. Kenoli partners have shown resilience and adaptability in working against these seemingly insurmountable odds to address increasing poverty and find ways to improve people’s lives.
Our Program Highlights
El Salvador experienced a military coup in 1972 and a twelve-year civil war from 1980 to 1992. This has left a violent society with high rates of poverty. Of its 6.5 million inhabitants, 29% live below the national poverty line. The country relies significantly on remittances, which account for 21% of its GDP. The homicide rate, which was one of the highest in the world in 2015, with 103 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants has fallen to 36 in 2019. This is a dramatic improvement, but still is high. The educational level of the population is low with only a mean of 6.9 years of schooling. However, the literacy rate has improved to 89%, and a significant proportion (41%) of the labour force is skilled. Mobile phone subscriptions are 147% of the population. A large proportion of youth (27%) are not in school nor employed and more people migrate out of the country than come to live in it. El Salvador is highly urbanized with 73% of the population living in urban centres. We have six excellent partners in El Salvador working in challenging circumstances to advance food security, nutrition, health, consumer rights, and economic initiatives.
Guatemala experienced a 36-year civil war (1960-96), which continues to affect the country today. It is one of the world’s most unequal countries and has the highest rate of chronic child malnutrition (48%) in Latin America and this reaches a shocking 61% in Indigenous communities. A large percentage of country’s 17.6 million inhabitants are Indigenous. Nearly 60% of the population lives below the national poverty line. Only 56% of the populations has access to safe drinking water. Gender inequality in very high and women only hold 19% of the seats in parliament. Nearly half the population lives in rural areas and 32% of the population works in agriculture. 73% of the population that does not work in agriculture, works in the informal sector and only 18% of the labour force in considered skilled. The educational level of the population is low with a mean of 6.6 years of schooling, as the government only invests 2.9% of GDP in education – one of the lowest rates of investment in education in the world.
Kenoli has seven terrific partners in Guatemala working on empowering girls and women, educational opportunities for youth, food security, child malnourishment, economic initiatives, holistic rural development, disability rights, and Indigenous rights.
Honduras is one the poorest and most unequal countries in Latin America. The country experienced military rule from 1963-83, and a coup d’état in June 2009 that led to political instability and human rights abuses. Hundreds were injured in protests following the November 2017 presidential election, that many believe was fraudulent. The country has a population of 9.7 million. According to the National Institute of Statistics in Honduras, 59% of the population lives in poverty and 37 % lives in extreme poverty. The homicide rate of 39 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants continues to be one of the highest in the world. The educational level of the population is low with only a mean of 6.6 years of schooling. 30% of the population works in agriculture and 76% works in the informal nonagricultural sector, which means their work is precarious. Only 28% of the labour force is considered skilled. The population is relatively young with a median age of 24 years. Access to electricity has increased in recent years, and now 92% of the population has access to electricity.
We have five amazing partners who are working in very challenging conditions. Their work has advanced human rights, holistic rural development, early childhood development, food security, and technical training in rural villages.
Nicaragua experienced two civil wars between 1967-90, and in mid 2018, violent civil unrest killed hundreds, and damaged much of the country’s infrastructure. 25% of the population of 6.5 million live below the national poverty line and 23% are considered working poor. Educational levels are low (mean of 6.9 years of school), and 83% of the population is literate. While gender inequality is high, women hold 45% of the seats in parliament. 31% of the population works in agriculture. 75% of those not working in agriculture, work in the informal sector, making their employment very precarious. A low proportion (31%) of the labour force is considered skilled. Nicaragua is relatively safe with a homicide rate of 7.2. While the availability to electricity has increased to 88% of the population, it is the lowest of the four countries that Kenoli works with. However, mobile phone subscriptions are 115% of the population.
Kenoli has six amazing partners who work in food security, women’s rights, economic development, holistic rural development, and clean water and sanitation.