The high prevalence of violence in Central America is a major human and institutional development challenge that the Feed the Future project, Innovation for Agricultural Training and Education (InnovATE), has identified as affecting agriculture development. Specifically, the Northern Triangle countries – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – are considered three of the most dangerous countries in the world, as evidenced by intentional homicide rates. The level of violence clearly affects development in many areas, particularly in terms of agriculture and youth’s participation in agricultural education.
InnovATE began looking at this issue to investigate why youth, and young men in particular, were dropping out of the agricultural education system at alarming rates in Central America. In addition to young males, high violence rates affect all youth and women, as well. It became clear that violence in Central America is a pervasive, complex issue that requires a pervasive, complex response from across sectors working to end hunger and poverty. It cuts across development sectors—agriculture, education, youth development, workforce development, economic development, health and nutrition, and democracy and governance -- to make cross-sector collaboration of paramount importance to reaching food security goals in the Northern Triangle.
As the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime stated, “If development is the process of building societies that work, crime acts as a kind of ‘anti-development’, destroying the trust relations on which society is based.”
On June 20 2016, we brought together practitioners working in different sectors in Central America to discuss how violence disrupts development and what to do about it. Talking points included:
- Tips and tools for rural and urban development practitioners to best operate in an environment of “anti-development” to achieve cross-cutting food security progression.
- How violence disrupts development such as food security.
- What agricultural projects can learn from youth development projects working in contexts of violence and vice-versa.
- What works well in a community that is affected by violence daily.
- What is important to know about working with victims of violence.
- Keeping staff safe in contexts of violence in development projects.
USAID/Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean