Photo: Youth violence in El Salvador
El Salvador will implement a new social youth violence prevention project, which combines work training, institutional strengthening and jail rehabilitation programs, among other actions, thanks to a $45 million loan approved today by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
In a joint effort by the central government and the municipalities of the San Salvador metropolitan area, the project seeks to generate more opportunities for the nearly one in four Salvadoran youths between the ages of 15 and 24 who do not work or study. For the prison population, the program focus is on helping young people between the ages of 18 and 35 be rehabilitated and find opportunities to reenter society.
El Salvador suffers from one of the highest crime rates in the Americas, with a homicide rate of 71 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2011. A truce among gans in 2012 made the murder rate drop. The country’s challenge is to ensure that this decline is sustainable over time. According to victim surveys, one third of Salvadorans report having suffered from a crime in the past year. Crime is a top concern for the Salvadoran population.
The municipalities play a key role in crime prevention. The project will support 30 municipalities that put together and implement prevention plans. Among other initiatives, the program will finance a new crime information system and will upgrade public plazas and parks. Around 10,000 youths will benefit from communal programs that include sports, art, and training in the prevention of intra-family violence, among other.
The program will train new tutor-guides for the so-called “farm-jails” and to help in the process of social reinsertion and rehabilitation. Finally, a pilot project will test out-of-jail conditional liberty options through the use electronic bracelets.
The project´s projected reductions in crime and violence rates – even under very conservative assumptions – could generate a benefit of 2.5 dollars for every dollar invested.