Project Factsheet
Tools for » Building social capital to reduce Violence: A new Transition in El Salvador
Project ID:00067226Description:MDGF-1962-F-SLV Building socia
MDG Achievement Fund
Start Date *: 31 Dec 2008
MDGF Conflict Prev Peacebld
End Date*: 28 Jun 2013
Country: El Salvador Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple


The JP sought to decrease violence and prevent conflict by working both at national and local levels. On the national level, it was expected to provide opportunities for dialogue, and build agreements to generate the necessary conditions to develop a national plan with a clear definition of public safety. At the local level it focused on one municipality, the Municipio of San Salvador, and sought to provide a pilot experience with participation of all key players, to  inform the design of public policies and provide evidence for an informed debate on human security. 

In addition, it aimed to enrich the existing public policy proposals and help build consensus on how to prevent violence by promoting spaces for dialogue and negotiation with key sectors of society. To do this, the JP strengthened intersectoral coordination mechanisms and supported capacity building of national and local staff who are in charge of managing conflict. It supported the creation of systems for timely and reliable information necessary for an effective response. It also promoted a process of exchanging national experiences, which allowed for feedback to existing practices. It proposed the development of a management model known as Community Police which seeks to bring police closer to the communities.

One key result was the adoption, publication and dissemination of the National Policy on  Justice, Security and Violence, which provides a framework for actions on public safety and prevention of violence. This effort helped review the National Strategy for the Prevention of Violence at municipality level with the lessons from their pilot in San Salvador. This was done in partnership with USAID.

The JP provided technical assistance for the establishment of the Office for Management of Violence Prevention. Its Cabinet includes the Ministries of Interior, Health, Education, Economics, Labor, the Technical Secretariat of the Presidency, the Salvadoran Institute for the Integral Development of Children and Adolescents, National Institute of Youth Investment Fund Local Social Development and the Institute for the Advancement of Women. This Office prepared a draft law for a National Prevention System currently under discussion.

The JP also intended to generate a discussion on safe urban spaces and revitalize social meeting spaces as catalysts that integrate disadvantaged groups and help rebuild the social fabric. The programme also undertook an educational campaign to promote mediation processes and awareness of community norms.

The programme promoted the rehabilitation and creation of safe public spaces, as a result there was a reported increase in the use of public spaces including 27% increase in the use of green zones and Parks, a 30% increase in the use of  children's recreation areas, 34% increase in the use of tennis and sports facilities and a 47% increase use of the Longhouse.

Over 9,047 community members under 25 years of age participated in various training activities.  49% of those who received job training were able to secure a job, of which 64% through formal employment, 36% through self-employment. In addition, 18% of the participants  returned to school. 

In order to limit firearms, the programme supported the development and adoption of a regulatory framework restricting the ability to carry firearms in public spaces, and the implementation of plans aimed to reduce crimes committed with firearms. It contributed to the definition of coordination mechanisms and the improvement of the quality of information for monitoring and tracking firearms and ammunition.

A Youth Living Complex was rehabilitated and equipped in Barrio La Vega, with joint resources of the MDG Fund, the municipality and the private sector. The center is coordinated by the Municipal Institute for Sports and is used for recreational, cultural, educational and sports activities in a safe environment.


Outcome 1:

Increased capacity to build agreements and the effectiveness of state institutions and civil society involved in this area at national and local level.


Outcome Achievements:

  • National Policy on Justice, Security  and Coexistence approved and published.
  • 29 central government institutions, 15 local governments, 4 autonomous municipal institutions and 5 NGOs participated in  coexistence and citizen security committees.
  • Three inter-institutional committees installed and running.
  • Increased number of residents aware of the existence of violence prevention committees in the municipality (by 48.1%) and increased number of respondents who are aware of the committees and trust them (by 10.5%).
  • Reviewed the National Strategy for the Prevention of Violence in municipalities with the lessons learned from their pilot in San Salvador.
  • Concept Paper for the prevention of violence and crime discussed and endorsed by the Management Office for the prevention of violence as a guiding tool for the definition of plans, programs and strategies to be implemented in the territories.


Outcome 2:

Safe, sustainable and inclusive public spaces contribute to the reconstruction of the social fabric in the municipality of San Salvador.


Outcome Achievements:

  • 32% decrease in the number of respondents who report little or no security in their place of residence.
  • Through a participatory approach the programme made available to citizens 12 public spaces which were safe, sustainable and inclusive. Community plans were developed to ensure their management.
  • Recreational facilities were installed in 14 communities. Local capabilities were strengthen to ensure sustainable management of these spaces.
  • Creation of the Bicentennial Band, a Community Theatre and the installation of three mediation centers.


Outcome 3:

Increased skills and personal development opportunities of young people in the municipality of San Salvador.


Outcome Achievements:

  • Participation of 9,047 community members under 25 years in the various training activities, of these 30% were not attending school.
  • 13 holistic programs targeting youth were installed.
  • 49% of those who received job training were able to secure a job, 64% through formal employment, 36% through self-employment, and 18% returned to school.
  • 2 youth centers were equipped and functioning managed by the community.
  • A Comprehensive Care Centre for Adolescent Health, (CAISA) was fully rehabilitated and equipped, run by a group of experts including a psychologist, a social worker, a nurse and a youth promoter from the Ministry of Health. The center caters to vulnerable youth exposed to risk factors such as family abandonment, inadequate parenting techniques, frequent exposure to violence, relationship problems among sons/daughters with caregivers, mismanagement of emotions, school failure, low educational level, harmful use of alcohol/drugs and lack of recreational space.
  • A Youth Living Complex was rehabilitated and equipped in Barrio La Vega, with joint resources of the MDG Fund, the municipality and the private sector. The center is coordinated by the Municipal Institute for Sports and used for the development of recreational, cultural, educational and sports activities in a safe environment.
  • A program was designed and built in coordination with families, community leaders and city managers. The programme aimed  to identify out of school children and adolescents and contained a monitoring system. By the end of the JP it had helped to identify 1,062 children and young people out of school.


Outcome 4:

Strengthened national capacity for the prevention and reduction of armed violence.


Outcome Achievements:

  • Development and adoption of a regulatory framework to establish restrictions on carrying firearms in public spaces.
  • Development of community awareness campaigns to promote the participation of women as key allies.
  • Implementation of plans aimed at reducing crimes committed with firearms.
  • The programme contributed to the definition of coordination mechanisms and the improvement of information collected for monitoring and tracking of firearms and ammunition.
  • A model for armed violence prevention at the municipal level was designed, validated and systematized.
  • 27 weapons bans were implemented nationally.
  • A security roundtable was Installed in San Salvador.
  • 5 weapons bans were enacted by executive decree.
  • Support to the creation of the Security Commission of the municipality of San Salvador.
  • 3 Citizen Services Offices to prevent historic property crime were created  (ODAC) in partnership with the National Police and Metropolitan Police.


Best Practies:

  • The JP sought to prevent violence through capacity building,  strengthening the rule of law and addressing poverty. The JP’s experience highlights the link between violence prevention programs and socio-economic transformation, particularly those that promote sustainable living options.
  • The programme promoted a gender perspective in an area of work  where the focus is generally on men. It took  deliberate steps to increase the conditions of equity and participation between men and women in specific initiatives such as prevention of violence against women, entrepreneurship, leadership development and involvement in community decisions.
  • When working with communities the JP used participatory methods such as consultations, forums, working groups, advisory boards, etc. These mechanisms contributed to ownership especially at local level, it facilitated partnerships between institutions and underpined their sustainability.


Lessons Learned:

  • Complex issues such as the prevention of violence requires comprehensive interventions. The joint programme approach is relevant as it addresses the different layers of a problem, it provides greater legitimacy and consensus, establishing more levels of dialogue and ultimately achieves greater impact.
  • Coordination between local government, central government and citizens reduces duplication and generates greater impact. This requires a clear definition of the roles and responsibilities for each participating institution and clear agreement on leadership, together with an agenda that allows for consensual decision making.
  • A key element for joint coordination is building a shared vision and a common language, this is particularly important when dealing with complex problems such as violence, insecurity and crime as it  facilitates consensus and decision making.
  • In polarized environments it is important to have a mediation or facilitation entity such as United Nations agencies. The construction of spaces for dialogue and decision-making were highly valued by the parties, especially when these were operational, concrete and facilitated the achievement of common goals.
  • A full prior diagnosis of the components to be addressed is necessary. This diagnosis should be participatory and prospective, and define priorities as well as mechanisms for monitoring and measuring impact.
  • The development of a security model needs to be adapted to a specific territory and demographic in order to address the specific issues, optimize resources and have the greatest impact.
  • The methodology chosen can have as much impact as the results and sustainability measures identified.



More details can be found in the documents below.

Recent Documents
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