ICMA has worked in nearly every country in Latin America to build strong, responsive institutions and boost effective citizen participation at the local level. Our activities began in 1990, when we embarked on a municipal development project involving 22 cities in Honduras.
In 2004, ICMA built on earlier work in Mexico by establishing ICMA Latinoamérica, which later became known as ICMA México-Latinoamérica, based in Guadalajara, to provide an ongoing presence in the region.
While many governments in the Latin American and Caribbean region have taken steps to promote economic growth and improve living standards, many countries continue to experience critical problems, such as scarce employment opportunities, lack of education, poverty, corruption, and crime.
Productive employment and education opportunities need to be created in order to counter apathy among young adults and increase incomes. Institutions must be strengthened in order to enforce the rule of law, curb corruption, and improve public service delivery at the national and local levels.
Crime and Violence Prevention
Currently, ICMA is assisting several Central American countries, including Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico, as they move to adopt community-oriented approaches to crime and violence prevention through the Municipal Partnerships for Violence Prevention in Central America (AMUPREV) program and the Mexico Crime and Violence Prevention Program (CVPP).
AMUPREV (Spanish-language site: www.amuprev.org) has employed ICMA’s CityLinks™ model to facilitate partnerships and exchanges between Central American cities and U.S. police and sheriff’s departments that have exemplary community-oriented policing programs. The project has also supported municipal crime prevention committees, developed a violence prevention toolkit, and supported the creation of a regional network of municipal associations that can promote legislation and norms in their own countries to improve citizen coexistence and promote municipal-led prevention initiatives.
Though the Honduras Pilot Partnership to Strengthen Violence Prevention through Environmental Design , ICMA strengthened the capacity of stakeholders at the national, municipal, and community levels to develop violence prevention strategies through improved environmental design using the Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) methodology, with a focus on identifying and disseminating actions that increase resilience to climate change contributors to violence in vulnerable communities. The pilot project focused on two high-risk neighborhoods in Choloma and La Ceiba and provided support to the Honduran Social Investment Fund to implement sub-projects in 14 neighborhoods using a participatory methodology.
Emergency Preparedness and Mitigation
ICMA programs have helped flood-prone communities in Guatemala assess their disaster readiness and improve their mitigation and preparedness capabilities. ICMA gathered information from dozens of stakeholders and from national and regional entities, assessing local capacities and working knowledge of flood mitigation and response. The ICMA team focused particularly on interagency coordination and existing communications networks and systems. Based on this assessment, the ICMA team identified gaps in information and knowledge and developed recommendations for training.
In Paraguay, ICMA assessed the incident command systems in the fire service in Asunción and provided training for volunteer fire departments.
After the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, ICMA implemented the Fire/EMS Station Procedures and Training Plan Developmentprogram, which assessed the needs of ten new fire stations in the country, recommended an organizational structure, designed training for personnel, and created a prioritized equipment list for the network of new stations.
In Honduras, after Hurricane Mitch, ICMA brought together community stakeholders (nongovernmental organizations, government, business, and citizen representatives) to conduct a needs assessment and set priorities for hurricane redevelopment/recovery projects. The team established and implemented a competitive bidding process and oversaw thirteen projects, including the construction of homes, latrines, schools, health and vocational training centers, and other facilities. ICMA provided assistance to two communities of displaced persons, building sewer lines, improving roads, and financing other vital infrastructure.
ICMA worked with cities in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Argentina to help them improve their creditworthiness and consequently lower the cost of borrowing for infrastructure and other improvements.
In Guatemala, ICMA provided critical support to strengthen local government financial management by implementing the national-level integrated financial management system in thirteen municipalities in four regions of the country, many of which are isolated and have high indigenous populations. In addition, ICMA provided support to improve tax collections and to assist municipalities in updating their service fees, designed a certification program for municipal financial managers, promoted transparency in municipal procurement processes, and helped strengthen local government associations.
In El Salvador, ICMA worked with the Inter-American Development Bank to support the improvement of local government capacity to more effectively and efficiently provide services through a program that developed financial indicators and a system to classify municipal financial performance.
Strengthening Municipal Management and Governance
In Bolivia, ICMA worked to improve municipal administration and management; strengthen local governance by helping municipalities implement participation models and processes; encourage municipal governments to develop policies and practices that promote local and regional economic growth; and build the capacity of municipal support organizations to be more effective and sustainable.
We have provided Mexican cities with assistance to help them improve their performance with the use of diagnostic tools that enable them to assess their level of institutional capacity in different functional areas: finance, planning, human resource management, legal frameworks, performance measurement, and crime prevention.
From 1998 through 2006, ICMA managed the USAID-funded Regional Partnership for Decentralization and Local Government in Latin America and the Caribbean. The partnership provided technical assistance and training to key regional actors to help them become more sustainable, and identified, disseminated, and promoted cutting-edge tools and best practices to enhance the management capacity of municipalities in the region.
ICMA has also conducted numerous city-to-city partnerships in El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, and Paraguay with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and in Colombia with funding from the World Bank. ICMA also has implemented programs in Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela.