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El Salvador: Eighty-six Community Development Associations join COFOA

COFOA is growing because leaders are identifying and scaling up issues deeply felt in many local As President Bukele consolidates political power and centralizes control over funding, marginalized communities are uniting and pushing back. communities into a national campaign.

On Saturday May 14, 266 leaders from 68 Community Development Associations (ADESCOS) across El Salvador signed a covenant to become members of COFOA. There are now more than 200 grassroots leadership teams across the country actively engaging government officials at all levels to access funds for clean water, electricity, schools, roads, and other community needs.

ADESCOS are meant to engage residents in implementing community improvement projects funded with tax funds from the central government. Officially recognized in El Salvador’s Municipal Code, ADESCOS historically worked closely with local mayors. But after Bukele c reduced the number of municipalities from 262 to 44, and diverted community development funding away from local governments, ADESCOS lost political power and influence.

COFOA recognized that ADESCOS were experiencing similar challenges to those faced by COFOA’s local organizing teams, and might be interested in closer collaboration. COFOA staff systematically reached out to ADESCO leaders to gauge their interest joining a movement to counter centralization and reclaim tax funds needed for vital community improvement projects, such as water, roads, schools, clinics and electricity. ADESCOS leaders agreed to use COFOA’s methodology to organizer listening campaigns and community assemblies to prioritize issues and then press government officials to address those needs.

You can read (link to COFOA May report) more about COFOA’s story of growth and achievement during May that is unfolding in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

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