The Government of Peru's La Calle de mi Barrio Programme demonstrates how simple, inexpensive improvements to physical infrastructure can make a significant difference in low-income areas, improving residents’ quality of life, self-esteem and confidence in the future.
Launched by the Ministry of Housing in 2005, the La Calle de mi Barrio Programme makes multiple, small investments in human settlement areas to finance, for example, new roads and pavements, improved drainage systems, painting of house façades, refurbishing parks and building playgrounds.
Although the investments are small – normally between $250,000 and $300,000 – they directly influence the living conditions of nearby residents and change their expectations for public services. By actively engaging local government and community groups in planning and co-financing projects, the Government helps ensure the full support of beneficiaries and gives them a stake in protecting outputs over the long term.
Working together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNOPS is a "strategic partner" to the Ministry of Housing of Peru in the development and execution of the programme. During the programme’s first three years UNOPS has supported 190 projects, with investments totaling $27 million benefiting more than 160,000 people.
UNOPS services range from developing the bidding process for hiring contractors and contract management, to supervising and managing works. UNOPS explains programme benefits and execution mechanisms to the communities involved, participates in local assemblies and advises on maintaining and protecting completed infrastructure.
The accomplishments have been far-reaching. Road infrastructure improvements have facilitated the movement of pedestrian and vehicular traffic within villages. Besides reducing journey times and accidents (particularly those involving children) this has created access for public services such as garbage collection, leading to improved public health. Moreover, better basic road infrastructure is widely considered a core foundation for the development of well-constructed and organized towns.
Investments have provided greater physical security, while higher living standards are reflected in rising property values. In many cases the projects have strengthened democratic governance by engaging local communities in decision-making through participatory processes and discussions.