The Program “Real Neighborhoods for La Paz” is one of the most effective and successful projects of La Paz city to eradicate poverty. It has contributed to improve the living conditions of thousands of citizens that were living in slums and has also encourage them to participate in the project.
Background and Objective
Situation Before the Initiative Began:
- 53% of poverty
- 37% without access to basic sanitation.
- 58 thousand families lived in slums.
- Economic inequality, social exclusion.
- Little planning of public space.
- 300 neighborhoods established in topographically unstable areas.
- Deficit of basic services.
- Little citizen participation in urban planning.
Establishment of Priorities:
In 2000, the Municipality of La Paz (GAMLP) created the Neighborhood Improvement Program "Barrios de Verdad” (Real Neighborhoods) to transform slums into communities with dignified conditions. Priority was given to neighborhoods with obvious deficiencies in infrastructure, with households listed below the poverty line, with topographic risk, where there were job opportunities for social cohesion and for the empowerment of women. To choose the areas of intervention, the municipality used technical criteria and the opinion of the instances of social control of each neighborhood. It was a first concerted planning exercise.
Formulation of Objectives And Strategies:
To transform marginal areas through integration into planned urban space, reducing social and economic gaps, guaranteeing basic quality services, promoting well-being, mitigating risks that make them vulnerable and opening opportunities for the exercise of citizenship and responsible participation in the neighborhood public management.
A citizen mobilization strategy is applied for the presentation of neighborhood projects through a contest, in which only marginal neighborhoods participate. Criteria are assessed such as: involvement of neighbors in the project phases, inclusion of women, proposal for comprehensive intervention (health, education, public roads, property law, green areas, risk prevention, etc.), technical feasibility and budget, among others.
Mobilisation of Resources:
Between 2005 and 2016, the Municipality´s annual budget allocated an average of 6% for the functioning of Real Neighborhoods and Communities, representing a total of USD 186.7 million.
Between 2010 and 2014: 43% of the Program's budget came from a loan of the World Bank and the IDB. In that period, specifically between 2007 and 2012, there was also a loan from the Government of Venezuela for USD 5.5 million. These credit operations are paid to 20 years with own resources of the municipality coming from taxes of the citizens of La Paz. The rest constituted our own contribution of the Municipal Government, for which it expresses a joint responsibility of the citizenship with the development of the whole territory.
Between 2015 and 2016, the new projects of the Program were executed with 55% of Municipal Government of La Paz´ own funds from both the National Treasury and own revenues and 45% from credit operations financed by the World Bank.
Actions and Implementation
The program has two components: physical works and community development. The zones are transformed and it looks forward to produce changes of social impact, benefiting the greater amount of population. It fosters teamwork with citizens, in an democratic dialogue, and provides the necessary tools for the efficient use of program resources.
The neighborhoods, while improving streets, develop initiatives linked to education (school improvement); Public safety (lighting, attention to community space, monitoring mechanisms and citizen alert), recreation (green areas, parks, community centers), social organization (communal houses and strengthening of the neighborhood organization), legal status and legalization of municipal property, Integrated risk management (soil stabilization actions, early warning systems), basic services. All this under an approach that prioritizes the attention to the most vulnerable population as children, women, people with disabilities, the elderly, etc.
Social control organizations are involved in decision-making regarding the allocation of resources and oversee implementation. They also carry out planning for the proper use and enjoyment of public spaces and community areas and manage their articulation with other programs such as the Women's House, the Comprehensive Care Plataform for the Family, Municipal Legal Services, etc.
First Stage - The contest
It is based on the participatory planning proposed by the Law of Popular Participation, which encourages neighbors to commit themselves to the development of their community.
Neighborhood organizations conduct the collection of information to meet the requirements of the contest. The definition of the neighborhoods to be intervened takes into account the depth of the information provided, the needs of the area and the number of beneficiaries, among other elements.
Second Stage - Preinvestment
Local assemblies are held to identify community requirements. Priority, definition and approval, with the participation of neighbors, civil works (physical) and social intervention.
Third Stage - Execution
The infrastructure works are executed by a private company contracted via Public Bidding. Neighborhood organizations monitor the process through works committees, identify "deviations" and propose solutions to the difficulties that may arise. At the same time, through the local Annual Operative Plan, they allocate additional resources to complement elements that may not have been contemplated in the initial design and participate in the constructions.
Fourth Stage - Post Investment
At this stage, it seeks to consolidate the community organization and its governance mechanisms, contributing to citizen mobilization, the maintenance of works and the sustainability of the project.
Outcomes and Impacts
According to the Law of Popular Participation, the Law of Municipalities and the Law of Participation and Social Control, neighbors and their organizations must participate in the allocation of public resources earmarked for direct interventions in their neighborhoods. In that sense, they make decisions about the ultimate goal of these resources through the Neighborhood Annual Operational Plans. Since the implementation of the Real Neighborhoods and Communities Program, this mechanism has been an important pillar in its sustainability, since after the intervention, the neighbors themselves ensure that the resources allocated to their neighborhoods are destined to the maintenance of the conditions created after the intervention.
In the last year the platform Digital Neighborhood has been launched, a tool that serves to monitor the situation of the neighborhoods intervened and to channel the demand for care of the neighbors. It is an instrument easily accessible through mobile telephony, which, at a very low cost, allows the neighbor to generate a process of attention to citizen demands. It is currently in a opening phase with 4 neighborhoods and tends to become the fundamental interaction mechanism for maintenance and sustainability.
Other elements to take into account in financial terms are:
- Increase in the collection of own resources, by means of tax collection and issuance of bonds in the stock exchange.
- A Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) study was completed, which certifies the financial health of the municipality and its budget planning and monitoring mechanisms.
- The Municipality of La Paz has an AA3 financial category, which allows it to easily access credits to support major works such as the Real Neighborhoods and Communities program.
Gender and Social Inclusivity
The execution of integral projects that execute both civil works and community development actions was, at the time, an innovation for the municipality of La Paz. The experience of the Program has been systematized as Good Municipal Practice and School of Municipal Managers has a model of transference of experience.
The results achieved have echoed in other municipalities around the world and international observers have come to know the project to replicate it. Municipalities of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Ecuador, Paraguay, Germany and Denmark have known the experience .
The World Bank rated it the 6th in importance of its ranking of projects in the world and has promoted the visit to La Paz of representatives of the region so that they can learn the experience.
The International Observatory for Participative Democracy (OIDP) recently awarded its XIV Distinction to the Neighborhoods and Communities of Truth Program (https://oidp.net/distinction/es/), for its contribution to democracy and the promotion of citizen participation in development processes.
The Program has methodological tools to be transferred to other interested municipalities. It has also served as a basis for the design of the municipal program "Urban Centralities", which projects the harmonious de-concentration of the administrative center of the city.
- The close working relationship and co-responsibility between the Municipal Government of La Paz and the residents of the intervened neighborhoods have made the citizen a committed actor, identified with the transformation of his neighborhood. For these reasons, the citizen empowers and takes responsibility for the implementation and the maintenance of the improved conditions of his/her neighborhood.
- Citizen participation has been consolidated in the processes of development planning, oversight of public management and the execution of the projects that benefit them, thus supporting the strength of social organizations and the cohesion of local actors.
- The implementation of a monitoring and attention platform to the demand, available and with high accessibility for neighbors, designed in conjunction with them to contemplate their expectations, guarantees the sustainability of physical actions and maintains an effective communication mechanism with the neighbors.
- It is an initiative with a high level of transferability. By relying on participatory planning methodology, which reflects the aspirations and ways of doing the citizens with which they will work, the potential for applicability in other contexts and probability of success is very high.
Resources devoted to delivery
No. Title Source Author Publication Title Volume Number Date Page Number
1 La zona Bajo Llojeta se transforma en el Barrio de Verdad número 96 ww.amn.bo/index.php/en/recursos-periodistas/titulares/73-scat-lapaz/9025-nlpz-zona-bajo-llojeta-se-transformo-en-el-barrio-de-verdad-numero-96 Municipal News Agency 23/07/2017 Edit
2 Alcalde entrega el Barrio de Verdad número 97 en Alto Inca Llojeta y resalta el cambio de vida en la gente http://amn.bo/index.php/en/recursos-periodistas/titulares/76-scat-soc/9110-alcalde-entrega-el-barrio-de-verdad-numero-97-en-alto-inca-llojeta-y-resalta-el-cambio-de-vida-en-la-gente Municipal News Agency 07/30/2017 Edit
4 Un hospital y un barrio de verdad en Cotahuma http://www.paginasiete.bo/sociedad/2017/7/3/hospital-barrio-verdad-cotahuma-143204.html Pagina Siete 07/03/2017 Edit
6 La Paz tiene otros 4 barrios de verdad para beneficio de más de 5 mil vecinos http://www.urgentebo.com/noticia/la-paz-tiene-otros-4-barrios-de-verdad-para-beneficio-de-m%C3%A1s-de-5-mil-vecinos Urgentebo 07/10/2017 Edit
7 Municipios replicarán el programa “Barrios de Verdad” http://bboliviaemprende.com/noticias/municipios-replicaran-el-programa-barrios-de-verdad Pagina Siete 10/27/2013
-National Development Plan “Para Vivir Bien 2016-2020”
-Municipal Development Plan “La Paz 2040, La Paz que queremos”
-Municipal Goverment Plan “24/7”
-Municipal Law 197/2005
-Law of Popular Participation
-Law of Municipalities
-Law of Participation and Social Control