Central American countries, including El Salvador, have struggled with widespread insecurity, fragile political and judicial systems, and high levels of poverty and unemployment. Gang activity in the region has escalated, and the resulting crime and violence has made El Salvador one of the most violent countries in the world. In 2014, the United States launched the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America (CEN Strategy), to help Central American countries improve economic opportunities, become more democratic, and provide a safe environment for their citizens. The United States has committed approximately $3.1 billion in foreign assistance to Central America since fiscal year 2016. USAID/El Salvador received approximately $221 million of that amount and incorporated crime and violence prevention activities into its existing mission programming. In 2017, the CEN Strategy was updated to target at-risk individuals who are susceptible to gang recruitment or had engaged in criminal activity. We found that USAD/El Salvador’s programs target at-risk communities, but the effort to target at-risk individuals is hindered by legal requirements, the lack of an implementation plan, and gaps in staff capability. We determined that the Agency’s planned actions meet the intent of the two recommendations we made.
USAID/El Salvador’s Crime and Violence Prevention Programs Need To Focus More on High-Risk Individuals To Advance Security Goals
USAID/LAC Bureau develop and implement a bureau-level plan that sets the Agency's priorities and provides a framework for achieving the security goals of the Central America Strategy.
USAID/LAC Bureau develop and implement a training plan that helps USAID/El Salvador develop staff capacity to design and manage crime and violence prevention activities.