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FEATURE STORY

Mexico and Colombia export their successes in conditional cash transfer programs

July 31, 2012


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Beneficiaries of the Oportunidades program. Photo: Rebeca Moreno/World Bank


STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The programs “Oportunidades” in Mexico and “Familias en Acción” in Colombia benefit over 7.5 million families.
  • A delegation from Pakistan travelled to Mexico and Colombia to learn from these programs. The trip was facilitated by the World Bank.
  • By 2012, Colombia and Mexico will have received over 100 visits from delegations from all over the world.

Fatime Naqvi, Social Development Advisor at the UK Department for International Development in Pakistan, travelled all the way to Mexico and Colombia with one purpose in mind: to learn from their experience in conditional cash transfer programs (CCTs).

With a special focus on women, the CCTs transfer cash monthly to poor families with the condition that their children go to school and have regular medical visits.

The programs “Oportunidades” in Mexico and “Familias en Acción” (sp) in Colombia have been operating for more than a decade and benefit over 7.5 million families.

As a result, child health visits and secondary school attendance increased in Colombia, while Mexico saw a decrease in child labor.

Recently Colombia approved a law for “Familias en Acción”, and in December “Oportunidades” will be administered by the third consecutive government since its creation.


" So it is really like a two-way street where both sides are learning "

Wendy Cunningham

World Bank Human Development Sector Leader for Colombia and Mexico

A two-way road

“We have come to look at the Colombian and Mexican experiences because there is a substantial piece of evidence from work that has been collected over the past ten years,” says Fatime Naqvi, whose delegation’s trip to Latin America was facilitated by the World Bank.

“We need to see what precautions we need to take, learning from the experience, so we can implement it successfully in our country”, said Shahid Naeem of  Poverty Alleviation Section in Pakistan.

By sharing their experiences, Mexico and Colombia learn from knowledge abroad, and visiting countries like Pakistan can see first-hand the challenges of creating a similar structure to help their poor back home.

“So it is really like a two-way street where both sides are learning”, says Wendy Cunningham, World Bank Human Development Sector leader for Colombia and Mexico.

By 2012, Colombia and Mexico received over 100 visits from delegations from all over the world. The model has been replicated in more than 35 countries, some of them as far away as Indonesia or the Philippines.

 

 


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