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IDB approves $2 billion for social programs during 1999

The Inter-American Development Bank approved $2.066 billion in loans during 1999 for social programs that were primarily focused on reducing poverty and promoting greater social equity in Latin America and the Caribbean.

IDB achieved its mandate of dedicating more than 40 percent of its lending and 50 percent of its operations to projects designed to improve the condition of the neediest sectors of society. At the same time overall lending by the Bank has steadily grown, making the IDB the largest source of multilateral financing for economic and social development programs in the region for the sixth consecutive year.

These programs focused on providing better access to economic resources for the more than one third of the region’s population who are poor – particularly minority and rural groups, women and children – and on building up social infrastructure in the fields of education, health care, nutrition and urban development.

Loans to social sectors included water and sanitation works, $492 million; health care, $475 million; primary and secondary education and technical and vocational training, $400 million; urban development, $233 million; microenterprise $100 million; the environment $82 million; and other diverse social investments $284 million.

The Bank’s programs concentrate on strategies to promote socioeconomic well-being but also include a growing number of measures to prevent social problems and to alleviate or mitigate their consequences, particularly in the event of crises or natural disasters.

During 1999 the IDB continued to lead the meetings of the Consultative Group for Central America, which is composed of international donors involved in promoting plans for reconstruction and transformation in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch. Financing sustained support for social programs is a central activity of the donor nations and multilateral institutions.

The Bank also promoted an initiative that brought experts and officials together to identify measures to mitigate the impact of crises on the very poor, alleviate poverty and promote equity. A meeting funded by Denmark, Norway and Sweden was held on the role of women in natural disasters. Another study is identifying the best mechanisms for disaster prevention and mitigation.

Broad participation by all social sectors in policy formulation and building national consensus is a key process that the IDB is fostering in the region and which made significant headway in the field of education in Honduras during 1999.

Other programs include housing and municipal development strategies, projects to prevent social and domestic violence, improvements in the health sector, and promotion of early childhood development to break the intergenerational poverty cycle.

Amartya Sen, 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics, was the keynote speaker at a conference on investments in childhood during the Bank’s Annual Meeting in Paris in 1999.

Last year, the IDB’s youth initiative entailed an active program that included the creation of a regional network for young people and support for policy formulation and cooperation among organizations to promote participation by people under 30, who make up 60 percent of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean.

During the Bank’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans in March of 2000, a Youth Summit was scheduled to be held from March 24-27 with representatives of young people from all the countries of the region to examine the strategic importance of investing in youth development and participation.

A significant number of IDB projects promote participation by women. The women’s leadership program that the Bank is carrying out with other international organizations held meetings last year to identify opportunities and encourage mentoring to achieve greater participation by women in all walks of social and political life.

In the past decade, the Bank approved more than $5 billion in loans for microenterprises and small and medium-sized businesses. Its most recent initiatives include three global programs for Bolivia, Brazil and Peru.

The Multilateral Investment Fund, an autonomous fund administered by the IDB, approved operations for $134 million in 1999 to support 90 projects to promote growth in the private sector and the development of microenterprises and small businesses.

Among the programs financed by the MIF are those intended to strengthen and channel credit through microfinance institutions, offer training and technical support for small entrepreneurs and promote regulatory and legal frameworks to foster the sector’s development.

MIF projects with a high social content, such as sanitation, environmental protection, biodiversity, and sustainable energy, have a priority.

The IDB social entrepreneurship program, a new approach to offering financial services for small-scale initiatives in low-income sectors and improving the management of nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations, has created new opportunities for promoting equity and combating poverty. In 1999, the Bank approved 29 social entrepreneurship programs with a total value of US$11.1 million in loans and grants.

Last year the Bank also approved, as an exceptional measure outside its regular lending program, six emergency loans for a total of $4.6 billion to help the countries of the region cushion the impact of volatile international markets and provide particular support for the continuity of social reforms and programs intended to protect the most vulnerable segments of society.


For more information on social programs consult or contact the Social Development Division of the IDB’s Sustainable Development Department, Mayra Buvinic, Chief, telephone (202) 623-3533, fax (202) 623-1576 or e-mail at sds/

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