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Municipal action plans for children

In 2005, UNICEF and FUNDE (National Foundation for Development) forged an alliance and began collaborating with municipal governments and local entities to develop participatory public policies for children. The long-term objective of the policies is to strengthen the local child protection system by articulating services and functions of the competent institutions. The process starts with the identification of stakeholders and their responsibilities followed by the development of a participatory situation analysis with children. The policy is developed and is then reviewed and approved by local actors. Official endorsement is obtained through a municipal decree after which the policy document is widely disseminated. The implementation phase is facilitated by an inter-institutional commission created for the purpose. Every competent authority is responsible for the implementation of their specific area of concern. Operational plans are also developed to ensure concrete actions are taken in the implementation. It is interesting to note that capacity building of stakeholders is a key element to ensure the citizens’ full participation at all stages of the process. More specifically, capacity building is addressed to children and youth to ensure their full leadership in the development, dissemination and implementation of the policy. At present, there are four municipalities involved in the process but only three have developed a policy and two are endowed with an approved policy document. Other stakeholders are currently supporting the process, such as ACDI, Spanish Cooperation, ActionAid and Save the Children.
A drawback of the initiative is that the decentralization process is still weak in El Salvador and the municipalities’ autonomy is somehow challenged by reduced financial resources. In addition, the legal framework does not favour the municipalities’ commitment to fulfil children’s rights, as a National Children’s Code is not in force and the Municipal Code, despite placing the responsibility to be in charge of different services (health, participation, planning etc.) on the municipal government, does not compel local authorities to develop a municipal policy for children.

The road to the building of a child friendly city is still on-going but the El Salvador experience should be looked at as an initiative in progress which puts emphasis on the involvement of children in planning efforts and in the construction and strengthening of a child protection system in their municipality.

For more information:
Gobernalidad Local y Derechos de la Niñez y la Adolescencia – Un análisis de siete experiencias de políticas publicas locales, TACRO/UNDP: 2007

Contact
UNICEF El Salvador
PO Box 2193
Boulevard Santa Elena y Calle Alegria
Edificio Interalia, 4o. Pisco Santa Elena, Antiguo Cuscatlán
La Libertad, El Salvador, C.A.
Telephone: 503 2252.8800
Fax: 503.22528811
E-mail: sansalvador@unicef.org