This is an initiative of the NGO, Fundacion Salvadorena de Desarrollo y Vivienda Minima (FUNDASAL) with very active partnership of the beneficiary communities. It also involves the Municipal government of San Salvador, the Ministry of Public Works, local public and private entities and several international donor agencies (for funding). The main strategies used are: formation of housing cooperatives to mobilize the beneficiary population; a rights-based approach supported by extensive awareness- raising, including the public media; as well as institutionalization of the Historic Centre Plan through legislation. Given the critical situation of habitat deterioration and abandonment in the old area of San Salvador, FUNDASAL implemented the project, with four themes: social organization, advocacy and management of land and housing projects. The objectives are: search for collective solutions between citizens and institutions; return to the built city avoiding the current expansive urban sprawl with its serious damages to the surrounding environment; support the impoverished residents in low income settlements; promote the exercise of citizenship and rights. The strategy aims at residents’participation in a broad social movement composed of people, institutions and other stakeholders. The initiative has contributed to revitalization of the historic city centre through environmental improvement, better housing for residents, poverty reduction through jobs in the re-building process as well as enhanced social inclusion and solidarity of the communities involved. The programme has also improved gender equality through active involvement of, and benefit to the large population of women heads of households in the programme area. The programme is also contributing to environmental conservation by reducing urban sprawl; while the use of co-operatives rebuilds the social fabric and capital. Together with residents of the historical city center, it was decided to give priority to families of 35 tenements, due to their serious housing plight, as well as insecurity and vulnerability of women heads of households. FUNDASAL encouraged these dispersed families to organize and fight for the improvement of their habitat. The Foro Permanente por el Desarrollo Integral del Centro Histórico de San Salvador (Permanent Forum for the Integrated Development of the Historic Center of San Salvador) agreed to work on comprehensive improvement of the area, residents’ legal status, open discussions of problems and alternative solutions, especially the management of a Master Plan. More than 200 families, 75% of them women-headed, registered five housing cooperatives, and established a social network for self-managed habitat improvements. This elicited the interest of other 260 inhabitants of old neighborhoods. Sustainability is enhanced by the existence of “El Foro Permanente …” which exists since 2005, and incorporates 20 public and private institutions, universities and professional unions. The Foro managed to push through the Declaration of the Historical Center of San Salvador, by the unanimous vote of the Salvadorian Congress; conducted studies on the use of land and participated in the drafting of the agreed upon Historical Center Partial Plan. The programme has applied many lessons learned from programmes in Europe and Latin America. It has also itself informed programmes in other cities in the country and the region, including responding to requests for technical assistance.

Fundación Salvadoreña de Desarrollo y Vivienda Minima (FUNDASAL)
Calle L-B No.7 Reparto Santa Alegria Ciudad Delgado, San Salvador El Salvador
503 22763954