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Development Account Projects

Urban poverty: an action-oriented strategy for urban governments and institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean

Background:

The project will focus on the following three issues: (i) the generation of financial resources at the local level (income and revenues for urban governments); (ii) improvement of the identification of the vulnerable groups living in poverty conditions; and (iii) development of new systems and instruments of expenditure with maximum social productivity.

The centerpiece of urban policy to reduce poverty is closely related to the integration of the informal sectors; the recovery and democratic use of public space; the reversal of the trend towards concentration of wealth and opportunities, which often result in conflict between the rich and the poor; and income and employment generation for poor families. The main beneficiaries of the project are: (a) the urban poor and indirectly the urban community as a whole; and (b) urban institutions, in particular, municipalities.

The potential of local governments to reduce urban poverty as part of national decentralization processes in many countries in the region is often limited by their lack of resources, including their technical capacity. Therefore, the project focuses on mobilizing more resources for operational activities at the local level and increasing social and economic productivity in municipal investment programmes.

Objective:

To strengthen the capacity of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to formulate and manage urban poverty reduction policies and programmes at the national and local levels

Expected accomplishments:

  • Increased application of United Nations global agreements at the national and local levels, including those within the Istanbul Declaration and the Habitat Agenda that promote sustainable human development in an urbanizing world, capacity-building and institutional development, as well as those included in Agenda 21 and under section 1.7, Social and economic dimensions, of the Rio Declaration
  • Introduction of strategies and programmes of intervention, including municipal financing and investment programmes to reduce poverty at the urban level, which is facilitated, monitored and evaluated by the subregional task forces focused on policy design and assessment, which are to be established under the project. In this connection, a set of indicators and databases for monitoring urban poverty will be developed and management experiences will be compiled in the region
  • Access for local governments and urban institutions to new economic instruments to develop a better framework of municipal income and expenditure. Newly developed economic instruments will be exchanged and lessons learned widely disseminated among urban governments and NGO's at the subregional levels
  • Launch of an integrated urban management programme for the improvement of the relationship of human settlements to socio-economic development

Effects and Impact:

The project is under full-implementation and it undertook a series of studies in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay, Guatemala and Honduras to identify the capacity of municipalities to develop and implement programs and actions needed to overcome urban poverty problems. The main purpose of these studies was to identify the potential capacity and limitations of municipalities in fighting poverty at local levels. Final versions of the reports are ready for 4 cases: Brazil, Guatemala, Chile and Uruguay. Another 4 case studies (Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Peru) will be finished in March 2005. The project also undertook research activities on the identification of existing programmes and actions to reduce poverty in 13 countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The First Regional Seminar took place in 2003 and the Second Regional Seminar is scheduled for March 2005. The Second Subregional training course for South America, organized in close collaboration with the University of Chile and the Chilean Ministry of Housing and Land Use, took place in Santiago from 27 September to 20 October 2004. Two national training courses were carried out in the first semester of 2004. The third course is scheduled for 18 to 20 January 2005 in Chile, the 4th is scheduled in Mexico (June 2005) and the 5th in Colombia is scheduled also for June 2005. Four different networks have been created, related to the project’s activities. The development of best practices was organized, as well.