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IDB approves $27.9 million for El Salvador social peace program

The Inter-American Development Bank today announced the approval of a $27.9 million loan to support El Salvador’s Social Peace Program, a project aimed at improving citizens’ security through the prevention of crime and violence and involving national agencies, local governments and civil society groups.

This project broadens the IDB’s involvement in the field of citizens’ security, building on previous experiences in Colombia, Jamaica and Uruguay. It also complements a previous project that supported the modernization of El Salvador’s justice system, as well as other social programs in such areas as urban development, housing, education and health services.

The new project will address one of El Salvador’s most pressing social problems, the alarming rise in crime and violence that took place after its civil war ended in 1992. Insecurity not only undermines peace and governance, it also exacts enormous social and economic costs.

“El Salvador’s innovative program involves four elements: integrated actions, extensive civil society participation, direct cooperation with national agencies and municipalities and improving police-community ties,” said IDB project team leader Juana Salazar. “The project should benefit nearly 200,000 youths and children.”

The project will involve the participation of national agencies, municipal governments and civil society groups in a series of actions focused on juvenile crime and domestic violence prevention, the rehabilitation and social reintegration of young lawbreakers, youth employment promotion and strengthening ties between the police and communities.

Resources will also be available to finance innovative projects put forward by civil society and private sector groups to address issues such at-risk children, juvenile drug and alcohol abuse and youth gangs.

The project will be carried out in areas with high crime levels in the Department of San Salvador and other municipalities, expanding community-based pilot projects.

The initiatives for the rehabilitation and social reintegration of young offenders will seek to reduce recidivism, building on efforts started under El Salvador’s justice system modernization project, which was also supported by the IDB. These actions will be monitored by Office of the National Counsel for Human Rights.

Another component will strengthen the institutions involved in the program: the Interior Ministry as the project’s executive agency, the National Board of Public Security, the National Police, the Salvadoran Institute for Women, the Salvadoran Institute for Minors, and the National Directorate of Prisons.

In preparation of this project the IDB, with support from the Norwegian government, organized two forums on social violence and security in El Salvador in 1998 and 2000.

The new IDB loan was granted for 25 years, with a four-year grace period, at a variable interest rate, which is currently at 6.97 percent a year. Local counterpart funds for this project will total $7.5 million.

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