A Look at the Central American Integration System in Terms of Social Protection
The Central American Social Integration Secretariat (SISCA) is the entity in charge of technically and administratively coordinating and propelling the Social Subsystem for the Central American Integration System (SICA), in compliance with the guidelines given by the Social Integration Council (CIS), within a framework established by the Central American Social Integration Treaty and the Tegucigalpa Protocol. Moreover, it has an additional role as secretariat to the Central American Council of Housing and Human Settlements (CCVAH) and the Central American Isthmian Council for Sports and Recreation (CODICADER).
Generally, SISCA’s work results in products and services for integration such as: high-level dialogues for the coordination and harmony of social policy; horizontal cooperation between governments, knowledge management for social innovation: through the systematization of experiences, social research, conceptualization of social integration, etc.; strengthening of institutional capabilities; support for information and regional monitoring networks with social and social policy goals; supporting the implementation of social development agendas through regional programs that promote the alignment, appropriation and harmonization of international cooperation, among others.
The meetings that took place with the presidents of the SICA, the CIS, the CCVAH and the CODICACER; and other diverse strategic tools yielded agreed-upon priorities, such as the Strategic Approach to a Social Dimension of Central American Integration, the Regional Plan for Early Childhood Care (PRAIPI) and the Housing and Central American Human Settlement Strategy.
Within this framework, over the past few years SISCA has supported the promotion of high-level dialogue on the topic of social protection, through the First Mesoamerican Dialogue on Social Policies (2009); and the First High Level Central American Dialogue on Social Policies: “Working toward building a Childhood development policy” (2011); in which the generation of regional synergies and experience exchanges were promoted.
At the same time, SISCA has contributed to strengthening capabilities through the execution of the program, “Expanding and consolidating the development and strengthening of abilities of people with HIV in Central America,” which is subsidized by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and provides funds to the Central American Network for People with HIV (REDCA+); the project called, “Access to health services for young migrants in Latin American and the Caribbean,” financed by the United Nations Population Fund; and the project “Strengthening Results-based Management on the Central American Social Protection Sector,” sponsored by the World Bank.
As a result of the aforementioned project, a Monitoring and Social Program Evaluation Tool (EMESOC) and its instruction manual were developed, through which monitoring systems and the evaluation of social protection programs can be diagnosed. Through the identification of adequate incentives and pre-conditions for its development, the application of this tool allows decision makers to move forward with the implementation of monitoring and evaluation systems based on results. And the outlining of executors’ roles and the identification of the institutional capabilities and personal needs for the monitoring and evaluation of social protection programs.
On the other hand, the Secretariat has supported knowledge management through the systematization of experiences and research within the framework of the Central American Observatory for Social Development (OCADES): Panama’s Childhood Integral Care Plan (PAIPI-Panamá); Joint Social Aid Institute: which has 40 years of history (1971-2011) (IMAS-Costa Rica); Uniform, Shoe and School Supply Donation Program for Primary and Basic Education (El Salvador); Inter-institutional Coordination Nicaragua-Costa Rica in support of migrant’s rights and the betterment of their quality of life (Nicaragua-Costa Rica); Project Life (Proyecto Vida, Guatemala); Overcoming the Global Economic Crisis for the Social Integration of SICA Member Countries; Giving Isthmian Central America and Dominican Republic Mobile and Cross-Border Populations Access to Basic Social Services; and topics of migration and labor markets, among some.
In particular, SISCA believes that promoting a detailed work plan with the help of the Inter American Social Protection Network (IASPN), developed with the authority of the Organization of American States, is essential to promote cooperation and the exchange of knowledge and experiences within Central America and the rest of the Nations of the Americas, in terms of social protection.
Ana Hazel Escrich
Central American Social Integration Secretariat (SISCA)