San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

El Salvador Launches New Anti-Poverty Plan

SAN SALVADOR (EFE) – PresidentElías “Tony” Saca this week launched amassive new anti-poverty program aimedat benefiting 100,000 families in the ruralnorth of the country.The program, which is being calledthe “Solidarity Network,” will cost thegovernment $200 million during the nextfour years.The poverty-reduction program, whichwill involve 20 institutions coordinatedunder the government’s Local SocialInvestment Development Fund, will target100 of the poorest municipalities in thistiny Central American nation of more than5 million people.ACCORDING to the government’srecently created “Map of NationalPoverty,” the result of home surveys conductedfrom more than 78,000 households,of the 262 municipalities in ElSalvador, 32 qualify as “extremely severelypoor,” 68 as “highly extremely poor,”82 as “moderately extremely poor” and 80as “extremely poor.”THE Solidarity Network will also becharged with developing the secondphase (2010-2015) of El Salvador’spoverty-reduction plan, in keeping withthe millennial objectives of the UnitedNations.The U.N.’s millennia poverty objectivescall for the eradication of extremepoverty and hunger, as well as halvingoverall poverty levels.Other millennial goals include achievinguniversal primary education, promotinggender equality, reducing infant mortalityrates, improving maternal healthcare,combating HIV/AIDS and guaranteeingenvironmental rights.PRESIDENT Saca said his government’sambitious new poverty relief programwill direct resources to female headsof households, because, he said, women“are better administrators.”The details of how the plan will workhave not yet been released, and social-aidleaders are calling for clarification.Cecilia Gallardo, coordinator ofNational Social Aid, explained that: “Ina country with a poverty rate of over40%, it would be populist and demagogicto say that we are going to help all ofthe poor. We need to focus our efforts onthose families whose incomes are insufficientto meet basic needs.”

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