The Inter-American Development Bank lending for social sector programs and poverty reduction in Latin America and the Caribbean totaled $1.53 billion in 2003, excluding emergency loans.
Programs for the social sectors include public investments, private sector projects and policy based loans. The Bank also launched last year a social development strategy as a framework for future action in the region.
The IDB promoted discussions and activities to help the countries advance toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals, a set of targets agreed by world leaders in the context of the United Nations to substantially improve the quality of life of the poor by 2015.
Loans from the emergency window facility, established as a revolving fund in 2002 to help mitigate the impact of financial crises particularly on the most vulnerable segments of the population, amounted to $3.18 billion last year.
Some examples of IDB activities in the social sector:
Social Development Strategy
During 2003, the Board of Executive Directors endorsed a Social Development Strategy to foster environments conducive to social wellbeing and opportunity and guide future investments in the sector. In this context, the IDB published studies on the region's social indicators, trends in social expenditures and challenges for crafting sustainable social contracts, among others.
A Social Development Week held in November was a Bankwide activity to promote internal dissemination with the participation of international and regional development experts, including Nobel Prize Winner James Heckman and former Minister of Health of Brazil Jose Serra.
Following the guidelines of the Social Development Strategy, a Health Strategy will be concluded in the first semester of 2004.
In 2003, a $1.5 billion emergency loan to Argentina protected key social services in the context of the economic crisis, including essential medicine distribution with the Remediar Program; epidemiological surveillance of transmissible diseases; maternal and child health; HIV-AIDS prevention and treatment and other health programs.
A project was approved for Costa Rica to strengthen the role of the Ministry of Health and to improve the regulation of the health insurance institution. Technical cooperation financing was approved by Canada to support efforts of different countries to implement National Health Accounts as a tool to improve the planning process for the health sector in the region.
Social Inclusion During 2003 the IDB completed the second phase of its action plan for combating social exclusion due to race or ethnic background to advance social inclusion through policies, projects and practices.
A multidonor fund was created with an initial Norwegian contribution to promote social inclusion in the region among Afro-descendents, indigenous communities, people with disabilities and with HIV/AIDS and low-income women.
New ties were fostered with the European Union concerning issues of social inclusion and social cohesion. A seminar was held in March in Milan, Italy, to exchange best practices information between Europe and Latin America. The IDB helped organize a joint seminar in Brussels with the European Commission on social cohesion and consultations in Mexico in October regarding the European-Latin American Summit.
Social dialogue and participation
In order to stress the importance of social dialogues and civil society participation, the Bank assisted member governments in social policy dialogues to insure the sustainability of social policies. Projects included developing a dialogue component in a public sector reform loan to Trinidad and Tobago and assisting the government of Paraguay in economic and social policy reforms.
Loans approved included support to community involvement in schools in Mexico, strengthening preschool education in Paraguay and promoting reforms in Bolivia. Several projects laid the groundwork for an expected increase in demand for financing of literacy and employability for youth and adults, accreditation and diversification of nonuniversity studies and technology and distance education.
Labor Market Agenda
The IDB coordinated an extensive consultation process to prepare a labor market agenda. Two seminars on labor market and employment policies were held, one in Peru for the Andean Region and the other in Argentina for the Southern Cone. The Bank printed the proceedings of these meetings and a comprehensive publication detailing all IDB operations in the labor markets area from 1990-2002. In 2003 the IDB approved a new $26 million labor market loan for Peru to support a youth job training initiative.
Subnational Development Strategy
Implementation of the strategy was monitored through a municipal management and development program in Uruguay. Best practices analyses included studies on participative planning in Brazil and on the convergence of social and municipal funds in Bolivia. Two international seminars analyzed issues involved in the management of metropolitan areas and the governance challenges posed by the development unbalances affecting certain subnational territories of Latin America.
Continuing with its work in the field, the IDB approved a $20 million loan to support Honduras’ Social Peace Program and citizens’ security on Valle de Sula’s 17 municipalities. The project will reduce delinquency, domestic violence and violence among youth by undertaking integral actions of social prevention, strengthening institutions responsible for security and promoting activities for social inclusion of youths involved in gangs. A seminar in December evaluated achievements and challenges at national and local levels in the region.