The Inter-American Development Bank targeted $1.8 billion to social development investments in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2006, with an emphasis on poverty reduction and expanding opportunities for the majority.
The IDB last year launched its Opportunities for the Majority initiative and renewed its commitment to support its member countries in the region to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
The initiative concentrates on six strategic areas of activity targeted for their potential to directly generate inclusive growth for the majority and produce measurable results in the 2007-2011 period: citizen identification, financial democracy, job creation and entrepreneurship, basic infrastructure services, information and communication technology, and housing. Work in these areas is supported by the Atlas of the Majority, an interactive web-based tool that compiles relevant indicators on economic participation and living conditions (http://www.iadb.org/bop).
IDB efforts to promote new opportunities in the region this year included labor markets, identity rights, citizen security and social inclusion and protection. Education, health, environment and urban development were key areas of action.
Labor. The Bank advanced a wide portfolio of labor markets projects, expanding operations linked to private enterprise development. Key labor market operations in the region included projects in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico and Peru. The IDB completed a major evaluation of job training programs in the region as well as a new, innovative evaluation of labor intermediation in Mexico. It advanced in supporting core labor standards in the region, reviewing lessons from child labor programs in a seminar held in Peru in November 2006.
Identity Rights. A new initiative is advancing identification and documentation of citizens with no birth registration or national identity documents. The IDB concentrated new efforts on linking the lack of citizen identity documents to the inability to exercise rights such as voting and to access services, such as education and income transfer programs. New goals were set for operations to increase citizen registration by 2015.
Citizen Security. In recognition of the increased severity of this problem throughout the region, the Bank’s portfolio was expanded in the area of citizen security and violence prevention. New loans were approved to Guyana and Panama and projects are in preparation for Perú, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.
Social Inclusion and Protection. Support was provided for a wide range of initiatives aimed at increasing opportunities for people of African descent, indigenous peoples, people living with disabilities, those living with HIV/AIDS and low-income groups, particularly women. The Bank financed awareness programs and prepared major loan and grant operations, including the replenishment of its Social Inclusion Trust Fund.
Loans in the social sectors continued funding of social investment and reform programs, water and sanitation, education, health, environmental protection and urban development and housing.
Education. Over the course of 2006, work in education focused on identifying innovative niches to enhance the effectiveness of the IDB in supporting education policies in Latin America and the Caribbean, such as the increased use of technology in education. Along this line, the loan portfolio included a program to improve the quality and equity of education in the city of Bogotá and operations at the subnational level, such as a loan component to improve education quality and build new schools in the province of Córdoba in Argentina.
Health. In 2006 the Bank supported health projects focusing on areas of increasing demand such as the replacement and modernization of health infrastructure, developing effective health networks to increase coverage, and improving the efficiency and quality of care to reach the needs of the majority of the population. It advanced in the preparation and implementation of several technical cooperation projects, including work geared to enhancing prevention and raising preparedness in the light of a possible avian and human influenza pandemic.
Environment. A total of 23 loans were approved in 2006, primarily in the areas of water and sanitation, disaster risk management, integrated natural resource management and sustainable tourism. The Bank also approved 45 technical cooperation grants for projects such as integrated natural resource management, water and sanitation, environmental policy and institutions, urban environmental management and pollution abatement, sustainable agriculture and coastal management.
Urban Development. The Bank promoted new approaches to metropolitan governance in the region. Initiatives included a growing portfolio of housing sector loans and identification of performance indicators to monitor housing project results.
The IDB’s Social Development Strategy sets four lines of activity to help countries in the region accelerate social progress and achieve the Millennium Development Goals: implement reforms in health, education and housing; promote life-long human development; promote social inclusion and prevent social ills; and deliver integrated social services geographically targeted to reduce poverty.
The Opportunities for the Majority initiative concentrates on bringing the benefits of employment, economic growth, technology and basic services to low-income groups (up to 70 per cent of the population) in Latin America and the Caribbean. Rather than approaching the challenge from a macroeconomic perspective, the initiative views it through a microeconomic lens, engaging the business community, governments, individuals and civil society. The Bank focuses on empowering the majority of low income citizens to participate effectively in economic life, recognizing their potential as both producers and consumers.