Objectives. We investigated themes related to the health and environmental impacts of gold mining in El Salvador. Methods. Over a 1-month period in 2013, we conducted focus groups (n = 32 participants in total) and individual semistructured interviews (n = 11) with community leaders until we achieved thematic saturation. Data collection took place in 4 departments throughout the country. We used a combination of criterion-purposive and snowballing sampling techniques to identify participants. Results. Multiple themes emerged: (1) the fallacy of economic development; (2) critique of mining activities; (3) the creation of mining-related violence, with parallels to El Salvador's civil war; and (4) solutions and alternatives to mining activity. Solutions involved the creation of cooperative microenterprises for sustainable economic growth, political empowerment within communities, and development of local participatory democracies. Conclusions. Gold mining in El Salvador is perceived as a significant environmental and public health threat. Local solutions may be applicable broadly.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health