About the Author: Andres Delgado serves as an Economic Officer in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.
Back in April, at the Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Presidents and Prime Ministers agreed to support a network of nations that would allow countries to share information and exchange best practices in reducing poverty. The Inter-American Social Protection Network is an opportunity for countries to listen and learn from each other. Today, Secretary Clinton joined the Presidents of Colombia and Chile and the Mayor of New York City in launching this network.
At this meeting, the speakers highlighted conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs. The concept of which is simple: give the poorest citizens a small monthly cash stipend if they ensure that their children get regular health check-ups and attend school. By giving people the choice about how to best spend the money, the government empowers its citizens. As Secretary Clinton said, “It isn’t charity, it’s an investment.”
In 1996, the Mexicans started a conditional cash transfer program called Oportunidades ("Opportunities"). According to the World Bank, Mexico’s CCT program has helped reduce poverty by 5 percent in Mexico – this within just one generation. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited Mexico and based Opportunity NYC after Mexico’s Oportunidades. The Chileans are sharing experiences from their CCT program, Chile Solidario, with Caribbean countries to promote social protection programs in this region. Countries are working together to combat poverty. This is the goal of the Inter-American Social Protection Network.