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Date: Sat, 25 Jul 98 14:38:20 CDT
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: LATAM: Success Stories and New Formula for Poverty Reduction
Article: 39843
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.6833.19980726181616@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** ips.english: 465.0 **/
** Topic: LATAM: Success Stories and New Formula for Poverty Reduction **
** Written 3:41 PM Jul 11, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **

Success Stories and New Formula for Poverty Reduction

By Jose Zambrano, IPS, 8 July 1998

CARACAS, Jul 8 (IPS) - An alliance between the state, business and civil society in programmes based on shared responsibility is emerging as the best formula for reducing poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean, as indicated by experiences shared at a regional seminar in Venezuela.

A total of 120 projects, considered reproducible in other areas, have been considered successful experiments in poverty reduction by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the Inter-American Foundation.

Programmes from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Uruguay and Venezuela were presented at the three-day seminar which concluded Tuesday.

While the projects were implemented in a wide range of areas including employment, health, education, housing, nutrition and the environment, they all shared one common element, comprehensiveness, considered basic to success.

The new model for reducing poverty rejects unsupported solitary efforts by the public or private sector or civil society, political scientist Caterina Valero, coordinator of the UNDP project, told IPS. She also stressed that it is a question of creating alliances among the three sectors, as committed participants.

Since the start of the project aimed at identifying and sharing successful practices in poverty reduction in 1996, 120 experiences meeting the requisites of the new formula have been gathered, said Valero.

As well as the three-headed sponsorship of projects, the requisites are a clear impact on or benefits for impoverished sectors, a new or creative response to one or more problems faced by poor communities, cost-effectiveness, accessibility - relatively easy access in countries in the region to the technologies, skills or resources necessary for implementing the programme - and sustainability, meaning the project must be independent of unusual or unique circumstances.

Other characteristics are equity or contribution to improving distribution of wealth, participation or intervention in decision- making by the project's beneficiaries, and above all replicability or evidence that the programme can serve as a model for tackling similar problems in other sectors or countries.

Projects presented in Caracas included economic-labour reconversion in the municipality of Palpala in the northwestern Argentine province of Jujuy to combat soaring unemployment caused by the privatisation of the Altos Hornos Zapla company, and programmes in education, health and housing carried out by Fundazucar in Guatemala.

In the province of Mizque in the west-central Bolivian department of Cochabamba, trade unionists, peasant farmers, government officials, religious workers and members of cooperatives have been developing an alternative education project since 1993, Quechua indigenous activist Agustina Cairo told IPS.

In the first place we are seeking to fight illiteracy and open education to indigenous peasant women, because women in Mizque have suffered not only from poverty but from marginalisation, said Cairo, one of the first 23 young women to come through the programme.

The project not only ran into resistance from male members of the local farming community, but from teachers as well.

And although it takes an eight-hour hike to reach the school from my community, this year not 23 but 85 girls will graduate, she added.

One result already seen is a rise in women's participation in community affairs, said Cairo, who added that our voices are increasingly being heard. There are now two women on our municipal council, and a graduate of the project is the secretary-general of Mizque's women's organisation.

Pablo Jaramillo with the departmental committee of coffee growers of Caldas, Colombia, presented the New School project being implemented in around 800 rural schools.

Students attend school according to their own rhythm; they can take six months or two years to finish third grade, for example. And above all, harvest season is respected - kids can interrupt their school year to carry out their agricultural duties and pick it up again when they finish, Jaramillo explained.

The aim is for children to finish ninth grade and not to emigrate to the cities, or join the guerrillas or start planting coca; that they carry out their rural activity in a dignified manner; and that it is understood that being a peasant is not synonymous with being ignorant, he added.

One of the successful experiences shared by Venezuela was the business sector's Voluntary Dividend fund for the Community, which has built 265 rural schools for 13,000 students based on the formula's principle of a three-way alliance, said Valero.

The community provides the land and labour power, private companies offer financial and material resources and technical assistance, and the state supplies teachers.

Another programme presented was the Glass of Life. In the west-central agribusiness state of Lara, the project, initially designed to provide a daily glass of milk to 70,000 children for the eight month-school year, was expanded to 300,000 children throughout the entire year.

During the development of the project several micro-enterprises have also sprung up, some of which are involved in the recycling of containers, and other forms of community organisation have emerged, as well as new channels for providing assistance to mothers.

The state is no longer omnipotent, nor can it be omnipresent. The private sector no longer meets with success if it remains focussed only on profits. The community acting alone and without resources cannot advance. The new paradigm is shared responsibility, Valero summed up.