Project Factsheet
Tools for » Conflict prevention, development of agreements and peace building for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Chiapas State
Project ID:00067228Description:MDGF-1969-F-MEX Conflict preve
MDG Achievement Fund
Start Date *: 31 Dec 2008
MDGF Conflict Prev Peacebld
End Date*: 28 Feb 2013
Country: Mexico Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple


The Joint Programme (JP) was implemented in 25 communities in Chiapas state, targeting Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) stemming from the 1994 armed conflict. The majority of this population is indigenous and vulnerable. Lack of basic services is coupled with violence and disintegration of the social linkages and a lack of access to justice institutions. The JP sought to address these gaps through three specific outcomes: ensuring access to justice, developing a culture of peace, and improving the living (housing) and economic (income generation) conditions for IDPs. The JP supports the Solidary Development Plan for Chiapas 2007-2012 that addresses the issues of the IDP population. 

A key achievement of the JP is the approval of the Law for Prevention and Attention to internal displacement in the State of Chiapas, which aims at protecting and providing a better access to justice for IDPS. The processes leading to this approval (the first law of this type in the country) increased awareness on the needs of IDPs at public level and in the national agenda, and led to the establishment of the Documentation Center for the Internally Displaced. 

Capacity building of more than 200 staff from the Ministry of Justice, social defenders and the police was provided to improve the effectiveness of penal justice in the target areas. One of the most significant strategies was the creation of 60 spaces to promote peaceful cohabitation and dialogue for IDP communities where sports arts and culture were used to promote constructive relationships among different and antagonistic community members.

Dialogue was promoted at regional level through forums held with institutions, civil society and IDP representatives. These led to the creation of a Regional Committee on Displacement to monitor the processes launched by the JP. Additionally, inter-institutional mechanisms were implemented at local level for identification and transformation of conflict.

To strengthen social linkages and promote peaceful cohabitation, the JP promoted changes to formal and  informal education. Nearly 25 thousand school teachers were trained in promotion of children’s rights. Through the programme “Everyone in school” the JP supported minors excluded from schools to help address their issues.

The target communities were trained in “housing self-construction” and community infrastructures. As a result more than 1,000 families benefitted from improved fuel-efficient stoves, solid ground flooring, water systems, and other community installations. As an important side effect, decreased incidence of certain diseases was observed, particularly among women and children and mechanisms for dialogue and negotiation were established.

The JP undertook a wide variety of productive projects and promoted spaces for agreements and consensus regarding them. This helped strengthened community collaboration and the role of women as family leaders and decision-makers.

Government investment as a result of the JP efforts amounted to nearly $1.5 million (20 million pesos) in direct interventions in the communities on activities such as access roads, community infrastructure, productive projects, land acquisition, among others.


Outcome 1:

Access to penal justice for IDPs.

Outcome achievements:

  • Supported the dialogue process for the approval of the Law for Prevention and Attention to internal displacement in the State of Chiapas, which additionally helped to raise awareness on the plight of IDPs and led to the establishment of the Documentation Center.
  • Capacity building  of more than 200 civil servants in administration and law enforcement as a result progressive capacity building over two and half years. Significant progress was achieved in changing attitudes.
  • Development of a strategic plan for the justice sector in the target areas.


Outcome 2:

Reduction of conflict through the construction of a culture of peace.

Outcome achievements:

  • The JP strengthened capacity of community leaders and communicators on the development of media processes relating to building a culture of peace.
  • To promote ownership and sustainability, a network of communicators was created within the state, which is linked with other states in southeastern Mexico. The state, municipal governments and civil society organizations, will continue to monitor the work of journalists trained.
  • 65 community representatives were trained to promote a culture of peace through activities such as visual arts and sports. As a result a process was triggered to create educational and cultural community centers by the local authorities.
  • Over 6,000 youth were trained on reproductive health, and prevention of communicable diseases, crime, drug trafficking and consumption, as well as on healthy lifestyles.
  • A forum on dialogue, culture of peace, local development and internal displacement of people was held to promote awareness and ownership of the JP process, as well as a number of other workshops for issues such as transparency, accountability, international human rights of indigenous peoples, and the promotion of the new Law.
  • Three inter-institutional “dialogue spaces” were created (Mesas de Usipa, Kichán y Ocosingo) to respond to specific needs of over 5,000 displaced families, for the prevention of conflict and the search for long term solutions. They have served to focus attention and government resources on structural causes of poverty. As a result of these efforts, the Government invested 20 million pesos directly in the targeted communities for roads, community infrastructure, productive projects, and land acquisition, among other.
  • Nearly 500 youth between 3 and 14 years of age were identified as excluded from the formal school system, monitoring and attempts to find a solution were supported.
  • Also some 35 teachers enrolled in a diploma programme on the culture of peace, in addition 33 coordinators and 24,987 teachers were trained on the rights of children. Some didactic projects were introduced to strengthen Indigenous Education in the Chol region. This initiative was later replicated by UNICEF in other regions.
  • The JP provided support to municipal governments for the design and implementation of municipal plans focused on rights and the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals.


Outcome 3:

Improved housing and income generation for IDPs.

Outcome achievements:

  • The strategy of improved housing was accompanied by a learning process in self-construction techniques to improve local capacities and generate replicable experiences involving participatory processes that contribute to improving community relations.
  • Committees were formed in over 17 communities in the municipalities of Tila, Salto de Agua and Ocosingo. This process was strengthened through the appointment and training of promoters in each municipality responsible for monitoring the construction of 1,546 works to improve housing, such as solid floors, firewood saving stoves, ecological latrines and washing.
  • Community infrastructure projects have provided spaces for reaching agreements within the community for the construction of water systems, fields of multiple, multipurpose rooms use. The projects led to improved dialogue within the communities as evidenced by 42 official community-level agreements and common decisions.
  • As a result of the dialogue spaces created with the state government, two plots of land were purchased to install specific productive projects. Complementary funding was obtained from the state government.
  • 1639 household of 25 localities have benefited from housing self-construction activities and product projects that provided 127 temporary jobs. Various rehabilitation and construction schemes for communities were undertaken, such as 2 new playgrounds, 6 multi-purpose centers, 2 potable water systems, 2 health posts, 3 educational and cultural community centers, etc. In addition, 814 fuel efficient stoves, 493 firm cement floors, and 219 ecological latrines and 20 washing places were provided by UNDP. 
  • 25% decrease in headaches, 8% decrease in fever and another 8% drop in stomach pains, as well as some decrease in respiratory infections were reported.


Best practices:

  • The inter-agency coordination office was established in San Cristobal de las Casas which favored contact with community based organizations and their leaders. It was not located within an agency nor in one of the target communities, facilitating its neutrality and perception of neutrality.
  • The design included training activities at the start to establish a knowledge base for the whole team, it ensured that all involved understood the objectives and scope and all basic concepts. It also helped clarify the specific contribution of each organization.
  • A gender expert participated in the JP to ensure proper inclusion of gender as a cross-cutting issue and also in order to promote the role of women at community level.
  • Special attention was brought to the participation of minorities such as indigenous communities throughout the JP and the implementation of effective dialogue mechanisms.
  • A transparency communication strategy was developed in order to safeguard the JP during the political campaign period.


Lessons learned:

  • The project team should include multidisciplinary and a strong technical background profiles but also direct field experience with indigenous communities in the region who know the history of the conflict.
  • To mediate and prevent conflict is essential to address the socio-economic, cultural, institutional and structural roots that lie beneath the visible symptoms. These, as well as dynamics and context, must be addressed at the design level.
  • Longer times are needed for programmes that address complex issues such as conflict prevention. Programme design must also include time to reach consensus and guarantee inclusive participation, particularly local decision-makers of all primary stakeholders in the decision making process and in identification of interventions at community level.
  • The time required for the implementation was not adapted to the needs and the complexity of the inter-agency collaboration mechanism.
  • More efforts are needed to create a joint vision and spirit in order to provide better articulation of the JP.
  • It is important to take into account political calendars in order to adapt JP activities and strategies. 


More details can be found in the final project report:

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