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IDB Announces the Winners of the Superheroes of Development 2021 Initiative

The IDB Group today announced the four winners of the Superheroes of Development 2021 Initiative’s fourth edition, which recognizes creative and innovative solutions during the execution of IDB Group-financed development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The four winning projects from Belize, Ecuador and El Salvador – chosen from a total of 91 proposals submitted – are testimony that no matter how adverse the conditions, superheroes manage to meet their goals of improving the quality of life in their own countries.

Superheroes of Development’s fourth edition is aligned with the Bank’s Vision 2025, which focuses, among other aspects, on improving project implementation, monitoring, and results measurement in order to achieve operational excellence and have a positive impact on the livelihoods of people in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The judging panel comprised IDB Group senior management members. “It is crucial to systematize the lessons learned and the success and failure stories and share them with other executing agencies that may be facing the same challenges,” Knowledge & Learning Division Chief Lorena Rodríguez Bu said. “As an institution, the IDB Group is constantly learning new things.”

The winners are:

1. Inclusion and citizen participation that transformed the habitat of the precarious urban settlement Las Palmeras de El Salvador (El Salvador), implemented by the Vulnerability Reduction in Precarious Urban Settlements in the San Salvador Metropolitan Area Program of the Public Works, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Ministry.

In the early 1980s El Salvador experienced a sharp migration spike triggered by armed struggle and mostly sustained by peasants and low-income people who settled in marginal areas plagued by gangs. This project, which included basic sanitation, drinking water supply to 400 families, road pavement, construction of storm drainage systems, and street lighting, tackled conflict management in 9 communities known as “Las Palmeras” in the Municipality of Tonacatepeque, where maras and gangs abound. So that all employees, institutional officials and professionals could perform their task in the field free from risks, and in order to engage the population and have them identify with the project, all key actors in the community were included throughout the project’s life cycle, whereas women were empowered on their role in rights and gender equality issues.

2. ICTs for inclusion in times of COVID-19 (Ecuador), implemented by the Asociación Fe y Alegría Ecuador.

The advent of COVID-19 in Ecuador in February 2020 forced the central government to take a series of steps to mitigate its impact on public health. These included suspending in-person classes, a move that had a strong effect on poor boys and girls with disabilities and with limited access to connectivity and technology. Rising school dropout rates, malnutrition, and domestic violence are putting pressure on the wellbeing of this priority attention group. Within this context, a project began to be executed to look after the needs of nearly 500 students with disabilities from 6 educational centers in Quito, Guayaquil, Manta and Santo Domingo, focused on the implementation of an education model based on technology and social innovation. It included the launching of an integrated plan that involved the supply of technological equipment and connectivity and the development of a virtual education scheme tailored to the characteristics of this sector of the population. The beneficiary community was made an integral part of this drive and educated on the importance of participation, in particular of parents and teachers.

3. Inquiry and problem-based Learning (Belize), implemented by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Technology of Belize.

Belizean teachers’ pedagogical and content gaps have produced deficient outcomes at schools. Grade repetition rates were lofty, and only two out of every five schoolchildren completed their primary studies in the prescribed eight-year term. Teacher-center pedagogy traditionally used in the country, which involved memorization of formulas and text recitation, has little use in today’s world. This all changed with the launching of the Education Quality Improvement Program (EQIP), which provided teachers with two years of training under a pedagogy called “Inquiry and problem-based Learning,” where teachers become facilitators, observers and guides, and students learn how to think and solve problems in collaboration with their classmates. Without any increase in schooling time or investment in expensive equipment, the simple change in pedagogical focus sufficed to bring about better results.

4. Rural cadaster in Ecuador: free and participatory technology for land governance (Ecuador), implemented by SIGTIERRAS, the National Information, Rural Land Management and Technological Infrastructure System of Ecuador’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries.

Cadasters and information systems are not popular. The information they provide is key for development-related planning and decision making, but they are also perceived as linked to tax raises and more monitoring and therefore are met with distrust. The project managed to generate an atmosphere of trust among the different stakeholders involved by creating spaces for dialog, providing information to peasants, and presenting results for each neighborhood. It also involved migrating from an analogue system based on drawings and plans on paper to a free-access, user-friendly digital system for cadaster information gathering. Early, effective, and permanent communication focused on identifying the interests and needs of all parties involved was essential for the project’s success.


As part of IDB Academy’s efforts to spread the lessons learned, winners will take part in a virtual discussion open to the region with IDB Group President Mauricio Claver-Carone, where they will present their projects and share their experiences. In addition, IDB Academy will launch a publication compiling the stories of the 8 finalists and give it broad dissemination in order to contribute to improve both project execution and new operations preparation.

About the IDB Group 

The IDB Group is the leading source of development finance for Latin America and the Caribbean. It helps to improve lives by providing financial solutions and development expertise to public- and private-sector clients. The Group comprises the IDB, which has worked with governments for more than 60 years; IDB Invest, which serves the private sector; and IDB Lab, which tests innovative ways to enable more inclusive growth. Access our virtual tour



Additional Contacts

Zepeda Palomo,David Alejandro

Zepeda Palomo,David Alejandro

Garcia Ferro,Luz Angela

Garcia Ferro,Luz Angela
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