The Darien Initiative focuses on strengthening the effectiveness and cooperation of national, local and traditional government bodies and community-based organizations as well as increasing youth economic and education opportunities and community participation.
USAID works closely with the government of Panama to reverse the influence in the Darien of drug traffickers and illegal armed groups from Colombia’s internal conflicts. Assistance helps strengthen the government’s ability to coordinate with different entities in the region. By working jointly, these entities are better able to improve the quality of life of people in the most vulnerable parts of the Darien.
In addition, USAID provides job training, small community grants and technical assistance directed at improving the effectiveness of government services and expanding opportunities for Darien’s vulnerable youth and their communities.
Judicial Transition Initiative
USAID´s Judicial Transition Initiative assists key justice institutions such as the Public Defender's Office, the Office of the Attorney General, and the judiciary branch in the transition to an oral, adversarial criminal justice system.
It also strengthens the capacity of civil society organizations to lead effective advocacy and public awareness campaigns in support of justice and transparency reforms. Assistance to the judiciary branch seeks to advance transparency in the judiciary branch and reduce court backlogs. This transformation represents a major shift in the administration of criminal justice. It implies a radical change in the paradigms and working practices of judges, public defenders, prosecutors and other justice implementers.
The new system is currently in effect in two provinces, Coclé and Veraguas. In 2012, the provinces of Herrera and Los Santos will adopt it.
The provinces of Chiriquí and Bocas del Toro plan to implement the accusatory system in 2013, while the provinces of Colon and Panama will do so in 2014. Justice operators across de country, particularly in the more complex provinces of Panama and Colon, will need extensive training in their new roles to avoid a potential collapse in the administration of criminal justice.
Opportunities For Youth
USAID’s Opportunities for Youth Activity is a prevention-based program.
Assistance seeks to expand opportunities for youth in target violence-prone and high-crime neighborhoods and improve sectoral capacity to coordinate comprehensive responses to youth involvement in crime, violence, and gangs. In addition to target urban areas, USAID supports activities in youth development and local capacity building in the Darien region.
Focus on building local capacity within the government, local non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations and the private sector facilitates the sustainability of the activities. The Small Grants Program and Global Development Alliances reinforce innovation, sustainability and the ability to expand positive experiences.
Last updated: May 10, 2013