South-South cooperation between El Salvador and Dominican Republic stimulates local economy
A key feature of the evolving development landscape is the increasing importance of South-South cooperation (SSC), which underscores the leading role of the South in its own development. Local and Regional governments (LRGs) and other territorial actors from the South face similar compelling challenges and develop solutions and innovations highly relevant to their Southern counterparts in areas such as local capacity, basic service delivery, urban governance, local economic development or youth employment. Consequently, the wealth of knowledge, experience and innovations embedded in local institutions and actors represents a great potential to be mobilized through SSC at territorial level, developing capacity building and knowledge sharing across local actors.
In 2011, UNDP ART El Salvador Programme supported the Departments of Usulután and La Unión in the elaboration of their territorial development strategies, in which the promotion of Local Economic Development (LED) was prioritized. The Technical Secretariat of the Presidency, one of the main national counterparts of the Programme, requested then UNDP ART’s support for the establishment of Local Economic Development Agencies (LEDA) in the 5 port areas: La Unión, Usulután, La Paz, La Libertad, and Sonsonate.
- Participants created a network for sharing information and best practices and support each other's initiatives within the framework of South-South Cooperation.
- It is estimated that a total of 2250 families have already benefited from this initiative, and 30 local organizations are currently providing services or facilitating socioeconomic insertion to families from local communities.
- In 2013, this South-South Cooperation between El Salvador and the Dominican Republic has been recognized as an exemplary case of partnership and received the Global Partnership Award in South-South Cooperation, an award delivered by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation.
Given the successful experiences of the promotion of LEDAs in the Dominican Republic (a country where the UNDP ART Programme is also working), the first step of the process of establishing LEDAs in El Salvador was a technical exchange between LED national and local actors (both politicians and technical personnel) from these two countries. This exchange provoked a strong willingness of Salvadoran participants to adapt the successful Dominican examples in El Salvador, and triggered a reflection on the technical, political and administrative policies steps to do so. As a result, the involved participants created a network for sharing information and best practices and support each other's initiatives within the framework of South-South Cooperation.
Following this South-South Cooperation, the establishment of the LEDAs and of the Intersectorial Committee in Support to LED (CIADEL) in El Salvador was effectively driven by local and national actors in 2012. The pilot LEDA of La Unión brings together numerous public and private LED actors, such as municipalities, cooperatives, micro and small enterprises, Universities, Chamber of Commerce, Civil Society , etc. It allows stimulating the local economy through the articulation of LED actors, their capacity building, strategic planning, and technical advice to enterprises management, with emphasis on women and youth.
In terms of sustainable development, La Unión’s LEDA has helped its members, especially the small enterprises, to integrate the environmental focus in their activities, through technical advice of the NGO ACUGOLFO, which works on sustainable development at the departmental level. Also, the LEDA is promoting a “basin focus” that integrates water and natural resources management in the actions of the public and private actors. The LEDA also works with a gender focus, and has installed a “window for women” that orientates and provides specific technical support for women entrepreneurship and employment.
Although sustainable impact on the population will be seen in the long-term, the stimulation of local economy has already had a strong, visible impact on the poorest population of La Unión. It is estimated that a total of 2250 families have already benefited from this initiative, and 30 local organizations are currently providing services or facilitating socioeconomic insertion to families from local communities. Similarly, the other LEDAs of El Salvador (Sonsonate, La Libertad, and La Paz) have a high number of beneficiaries, being the majority of them women and young people, who have seen a real improvement of their living conditions, through an increase of employment opportunities.
In 2013, the LEDA of La Unión has been chosen by the Ministry of Finance to locally manage important components of its public policies. Furthermore, the successful experience of La Unión LEDA is being scaled up at country level, fostering the strengthening of the Sonsonate LEDA and the establishment of the LEDAs of La Libertad and La Paz.
In 2013, this South-South Cooperation between El Salvador and the Dominican Republic has been recognized as an exemplary case of partnership and received the Global Partnership Award in South-South Cooperation, an award delivered by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation.