March 26 2009

UN-HABITAT names SOS family strengthening programme in Uruguay a successful example of sustainable development

26/03/2009 - UN-HABITAT, the United Nations agency for human settlements has named the family strengthening programme in Salto an example of "Good Practice". In doing so, it has recognised the project as a model of sustainability, participation and integration.

Photo: Fernando Espinoza
The children are well, as is the whole family: day care centre in Salto - Photo: F. Espinoza

The Technical Advisory Committee of UN-HABITAT reviewed more than 470 projects, programmes and initiatives in October 2008. The submissions had been evaluated in a selection process that lasted a period of ten months beforehand and were selected from a number of programmes.

A total of 103 projects were classed as "Best Practices" and the family strengthening programme of SOS Children’s Villages Uruguay in Salto was one of the 288 that were classed as being an example of "Good Practice".

The "Best and Good Practices" that were selected will be added to the database that UN-HABITAT set up in 1996, which can be used by partners. Aspects are highlighted from programmes and projects in a global network, which could provide valuable inspiration for similar programmes and projects in the area of sustainable development and support. Projects that have been entered into the database are also presented at conferences, in seminars and workshops and are case studies of successful development.

The SOS family strengthening programme in Salto, the second largest city in Uruguay, which is situated in the north west of the country (close to the border with Argentina), was chosen in a national selection process on the sustainable development of communities in areas with a poor infrastructure.

Photo: Fernando Espinoza
Mothers from Salto make kites with their children - Photo: F. Espinoza

The programme is based in five community centres in different areas where families face particularly challenging living conditions. The programme, which is mainly carried out with the target group itself and in collaboration with the local government, reaches out to more than 600 children and their families. Information events take place on child nutrition and health matters; training courses and workshops target women in particular. Up to 380 children aged 18 months to twelve years are supervised at nurseries and day care centres, which takes the pressure off their mothers, who often are single working mothers. The programme aims to ensure that the children have a healthy development and, in parallel, strengthen the skills and capabilities of the family. As important stakeholders in this social network, community committees also ensure the sustainability of the programme. 

The programme was co-financed by the EU, which allocated 750,000 euros for a five-year period. The funds were also used to finance the construction of an SOS Social Centre, which co-ordinates community-based network.