31 July 2019
Category : Interview
Francisco Sancho, coordinator of the AECID in Bolivia, talks to us about the spanish cooperation and the project “European support for Bolivia’s special forces for fighting drugs”Francisco Sancho, AECID coordinator in Bolivia
What role does Spanish cooperation play in Bolivia?
Cooperation in general, and especially in Bolivia, before defining any work, is building dialogue.
Dialogue with the Bolivian institutions, with the Bolivian government, at both central and regional levels, with the municipalities and with local authorities. We must also conduct a dialogue with civil society and, based on this dialogue and all the information we receive, carry out an analysis and determine which specific actions and lines of work are most complementary for the Bolivian government and where we see our comparative advantages lying.
What are the priorities of Spanish cooperation in Bolivia?
Our priorities have been adjusted over the years as the country has grown and expanded, but we can set out four main priorities.
First, governability. For us, governability is the democratic core of a country, and above all it is the improvement of government’s administrative and management capabilities. In planning processes, as we do with the Bolivian Ministry of Planning. And also in gender equality issues as we do with the Ministry of Justice, through the Vice Ministry of Equality, paying very special attention to the issue of violence against women.
Financial aspects are also important, because there is a lot of infrastructure that requires very intense work as regards water, sanitation, and so on.
Thirdly, we have the area that can be grouped together and referred to as social cohesion, including health and education, the emphasis currently being on health, whereas previously it tended to be on education.
Bolivia being an intermediate income country, we are still working on primary care, but we have been moving more and more into covering Bolivia’s need for training of specialist doctors for the second level of medical care. And also, towards having at least five basic specialities catered to in hospitals so that patients referred from the first level of primary care can be treated at the second level.
Another very important area for us is that of heritage, culture and development, but always from the perspective of development and above all improvement of living conditions. The objective is to build on the interplay among Bolivia’s heritage, the conservation of that heritage and the country’s historical memory to develop a strategy, jointly, at national and regional level, aimed at promoting tourism and improving its citizens’ living conditions and incomes.
These are the four most important areas. Apart from this, we also do a considerable amount of work with NGOs, always within these four axes, everything being agreed in advance. The aim is to focus on these four areas and to work together on them, joining forces with the NGOs and the country.
And the priorities of Bolivia, regarding cooperation?
Bolivia’s priorities are exactly the same. We work with an analysis, with the country’s planning documents, and based on this dialogue, which we build at the social and institutional levels, we make a proposal for shared action based on our comparative advantages.
Based on these advantages, we have established the four work axes which I mentioned earlier: governance with special attention to the violence of women and planning management; health, especially as regards medical specialisation; issues relating to water and sanitation, where much progress has been made and where the Spanish water and sanitation fund’s programme, together with the government of Bolivia, has made a very significant effort. and finally, the area of heritage, culture and development.
How important is inter-institutional coordination between the AECID and the FIIAPP?
It’s essential. To achieve cooperation, inter-institutional relations are indispensable. No work can be done, especially in the area of cooperation, if there are not good inter-institutional relations.
The project “ European support for Bolivia’s special forces for fighting drugs ” is financed jointly by the European Union and Spain’s AECID and now we also have a budget from the FIIAPP.
Right from the start, both in the preparation of the first planning documents and later in the following steps, there have been very close relations between the AECID and the FIIAPP. They have always sent us regular information, which we appreciate, because it allows us to have clear knowledge of the progress and to detect the difficulties and make suggestions – only suggestions, because ultimate responsibility of course lies with the FIIAPP as implementer.
As part of this joint inter-institutional work, we also have to devise and put forward suggestions for resolving the problems that arise in the normal course of a project. I believe that this inter-institutional relationship is very important.
How has the joint work between the two institutions been for the development of the project to support the fight against drugs and human trafficking?
The fact is that, as I mentioned earlier, it’s a task that’s been carried out jointly from the very beginning, from conception. I should also mention that the European Union delegation has done a very good job of coordination in this respect.
We’ve worked on each of the points, paying special attention to detail. In all the meetings we’ve had, we’ve paid specific attention not just to how the project is evolving and to monitoring, but also to analysing problems and above all to joint proposals, in a consensual way.
I think this is the key word, consensus, finding one as regards the work dynamics and above all in problem solving.
What do you think are the main things achieved in the project thanks to this close collaboration?
The main thrust of this programme, which involves some very complex issues, is really the fight against drug trafficking and all related crimes.
The initial panorama was one of many national institutions, each with its own powers and its own roadmap and very little contact among them. This has been greatly improved. The programme of the FIIAPP, the European Union and ourselves has been the search for coordination and more pooling of resources among the institutions that work on this problem in the country. I believe that really important advances have been achieved.
Another achievement that can be highlighted is the training of human resources. This training is essential, not just because there have been many courses with specialists coming from Spain and other countries such as France to deliver this training, but because “train the trainers” sessions have been proposed so that this “installed capacity” can continue to produce without the presence necessarily of external support.
And, above all, the need, as we have commented many times with the FIIAPP, for this training to be formally set out in writing. And for job descriptions to include this need for training, because in many cases it provides some assurance as to the suitability of the person who is going to do the job. Thus, with the institutional and personal changes that are usual in any institution, the person occupying the position would be offered the possibility of training or, training already received would be taken into account.
And finally, when we speak of related crimes, especially for Spanish cooperation, the related crime that we wish to address most particularly is people trafficking. Especially, the trafficking of women, related in many cases with exploitation of sexual services, almost slavery, and also the trafficking of young people.
This line seems to us very important and sensitive because it has a very large incidence in the country. In this regard, the FIIAPP has been working on the preparation of a series of planning documents, at regional level and at the key level of the departments (provinces). It is a work that we complement, with our bilateral effort, together with the Bolivian Ministry of Justice and of course the NGOs.
All aspects of the programme are important, but for Spanish cooperation this line of work of related crimes, specifically people trafficking, is the one on which we have collaborated most insistently, given that it is a line of work that we also have in the country.
Would you highlight other examples of joint work between the AECID and the FIIAPP?
The relations between the FIIAPP and the Spanish-AECID cooperation are very close. We are sister organisations, we work together and obviously we do so in other countries too.
We also collaborate on regional programmes such as EUROsociAL+ where we have also been sharing experiences regarding people trafficking.
Here, the work of the FIIAPP and the AECID has been a permanent job for many years and in which we have many connections and relationships.
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