U.S. Government to Award $2 Million for Crime Prevention in Municipalities
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SAN SALVADOR–The U.S. Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), together with representatives of the Sub-secretary for Territorial Development and Decentralization of El Salvador, announced today a $2 million pilot program to improve El Salvador’s economic development and security at the municipal level. Acting USAID Director in El Salvador, William Elderbaum, together with the Sub-secretary of Territorial Development and Decentralization, Guillermo Galván and representatives from 53 participating municipalities participated in the launch.
The Domestic Finance for Development (DF4D) initiative, designed by the Government of the United States, incentivizes developing countries to mobilize their own financial resources by reducing corruption, reforming tax systems, and improving the management of their expenditures. In El Salvador, municipalities that show the greatest results will be considered for additional U.S. Government funding. The goal is to help these nations invest in local development and meet citizen demands for better services.
In his April 2011 visit to El Salvador, President Barack Obama announced that the country would be a pilot for promoting DF4D through development assistance programs and competitive grants. This effort supports several goals of the Partnership for Growth initiative between the Governments of El Salvador and the United States including the improvement of tax revenue collection, crime reduction, and the creation of an improved investment climate.
“USAID is committed to using innovative solutions to assist developing countries to build their capacity to address critical problems,” said Mark Feierstein, the agency's assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean. “We expect this program to motivate Salvadoran cities to raise additional revenue to combat crime and create a more secure environment for economic development.”
In El Salvador, crime and insecurity is a critical constraint to economic growth and generates estimated losses of 25 percent of the annual gross domestic product. El Salvador has an average of five homicides per day, according to data from the National Civilian Police. Although the national government is responsible for overall security issues in the country, local government authorities play an important role. For example, local governments are establishing crime observatories, promoting and supporting combined patrols of Municipal Police/National Civilian Police, organizing citizen groups to coordinate social prevention activities, providing lighting in high-risk areas, and rehabilitating parks and repurposing abandoned public spaces with new community buildings and sport facilities.
The DF4D program in El Salvador will be managed by the USAID Municipal Competitiveness Project (MCP). A total of 53 municipalities will participate over a period of six months in a competitive process entitled, “Competition for Support for Crime and Violence Prevention Initiatives.”
After the six-month period, municipalities will be evaluated on improvements in tax revenue generation and will present crime prevention projects designed together with local NGOs. At the end of the competition, 15 to 20 municipalities will be eligible for one-year grants for use in municipal-level crime prevention activities, to be disbursed to partnering NGOs working with municipal organizations.
The Municipal Competitiveness Project has worked to improve local business environments in El Salvador since 2010. In order to accomplish this goal, the project carries out activities related to strengthening municipal administration services. Similarly, the project promotes the active participation of mayors in stimulating economic activity, and foments alliances among municipalities and between municipalities and the private sector.
To date, the Municipal Competitiveness Project has provided technical assistance for 45 Municipal Competitiveness Plans, created jointly by municipal and private sector representatives to analyze constraints to growth and identify ways to improve. The project has also supported the establishment of five one-stop-windows for business services in the municipalities of Santa Ana, San Martín, Tonacatepeque, Chalatenango, and Aguilares, and has provided training for 343 municipal officials.
The 53 eligible municipalities include the 50 already participating in the USAID Municipal Competitiveness Program, as well as three additional municipalities working with another USAID program, the Community-Based Crime and Violence Prevention Program. These are: