Social protection network

Felipe Rivas Villatoro

In 2000, the civil society international network “Social Watch” submitted its first evaluation of the World Summit for Social Development 1995-2000. On such occasion the recommendation was “to create social protection networks” with the participation of the different sectors for the purpose of contributing to the eradication of poverty.

This same network carried out a new investigation in 2004 under the title “Poverty and Civil Society”, which insists on the need to increase social investment and to create a strategy to combat poverty with clear goals and commitments. Both analysis go beyond the welfare approach in order to face a productive transformation and investment increase, which should result in sustained growth, creation of jobs and competitiveness by means of political will.

However, that which turns out to be essential now is to consider integral plans that would break once and for all the circle of poverty.

Many studies insist on the importance of including the human side to the current models and economic policies; and in the words of the President of the Republic, Mr. Tony Saca, to place the social factors on the basis of everything, which represents a really significant turnover with regards to previous administrations. From this perspective, the social programme to assist families in extreme poverty of El Salvador Red Solidaria should be considered as a positive and initial initiative, although insufficient in terms of an integral strategy to combat poverty. On the one hand, it highlights the importance of the creation of opportunities for the population living in extreme poverty and on the other hand, it evidences the limited impact of previous economic policies. 

However, the focal point of a poverty eradication programme should be concentrated on generating sustained growth at the local level and in the most vulnerable and socially excluded areas, as well as on achieving greater investment, increase in productivity, creation of local jobs and an integral and integrating social protection system.

The latter implies developing empowered social networks and building an organized and consistent social mesh, which has not been mentioned in previous administrations out of fear.

The coordination between ministries and executive agencies and the integration of actions among state institutions should not be an innovation but an obligation that has to be carried out; apart from focusing investment on the poorer and most socially disadvantaged areas.

The increase in social investment is an imperious need demanded by society as a whole; to create consistent social articulation instances and allow municipalities and civil society to play a leading role, to encourage private investment in these areas and to carry out a good social audit could turn out to be an innovation in case of being implemented.

Political parties should evidence more wisdom and creativity in the combat against poverty and the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals. The mission consists of a model and economic policy focused on human development including productivity, equity, sustainability and participation, having as priority the combat against poverty,  creation of jobs, integration and gender equity.

It turns out to be essential to eliminate the social compensation approach of limited coverage, as well as the market criteria in social policies.