Beginning in 2005, La Pax began an innovative program called “Real Neighborhoods for La Paz” (PBCV) with the aim of empowering and improving the quality of life for poor urban communities. The program is based on the Law of Popular Participation, which encourages neighbours to commit themselves to the development of their community by volunteering to be part of a “Neighbourhood Committee”.
The first step of the program was therefore to have communities discuss and put forth a strategy for infrastructure and community development. These plans included road development, school improvements, public safety initiatives, recreation (green space, parks and community centres), community housing, legal reforms to allow ownership of property, and basic services. These programs were put forth with the understanding that the Neighbourhood Committees would ultimately be responsible for allocating public resources and overseeing the implementation of these projects.
Throughout the implementation and execution of these projects, Neighbourhood Committees monitor the process, identify any “deviations”, and propose solutions when any difficulties or unseen challenges arise. Through their local Annual Operative Plan, Neighbourhood Committees are also tasked with allocating additional resources when new complementary projects are identified that were not part of the initial strategy. Once projects are finalised, Neighbourhood Committees work to ensure effective maintenance (e.g. recycling, cleaning campaigns, waste reduction, etc.) and sustainability of the projects through community governance mechanisms.
The incredible results of this program on poverty reduction, sanitation, education, health, environmental sustainability, and many other dimensions of wellbeing for over 111,000 people has inspired development agencies and other neighbouring countries to explore more empowering approaches to poverty reduction strategy design and implementation.
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