Karina is 21 yrs old. She is single and a mother of two. She wanted to have kids because to her that was the only way she would have something to live for. She is a high school dropout and currently runs a small beauty salon in her house. She has been working hard so that she can construct a second floor for her house.
Natalia is 32 yrs old. She is a mother of two and pregnant with her third child. She is a housewife living in Miravajis, which is a neighborhood at the top of the hill in Tirrasses. She has to walk twice a day for 5 km to drop off and pick up her kids from school. The public bus service stops at the foot of the hill hear the district center where the school is located. She sometimes takes the informal cab service which costs $2 each way.
These are just two excerpts of the many lives in Tirrasses, Costa Rica, where Asia Initiatives is collaborating with the Municipality of Curridabat to initiate SoCCs.
The district of Tirrasses within the Municipality of Curridabat in Costa Rica is a low-income neighborhood separated from the rest of the city by a river. The community lives on a hill with only one motorable route and one pedestrian bridge connecting it to the other districts. With limited access to education, job opportunities and transportation facilities; and under increasing proliferation of drugs, issues of domestic violence and security are of increasing concern. The district also has a large number of households headed by women, who are either divorced or single with kids. The national and local governments together with various civil society groups have been working towards the provision of infrastructure and amenities for the community in the near future.
The municipality’s responsibilities and goals are evident in the SoCCs pilot in Tirrasses – a collaboration between Asia initiatives and the Municipality of Curridabat . The municipality is currently using its ‘Human Development Plan’ for Tirrasses to create the city’s vision for the next 20 years with a strong emphasis on upward social mobility. SoCCs is being tested as one of the tools towards this goal. The municipality is in charge of four main tasks, involving environmental, construction and maintenance of roads, issuing building permits and tax collection. The municipality has also developed a strong department for social development with emphasis on women’s entrepreneurship, childcare, education and drug and alcohol rehabilitation. We hope that with the support of SoCCs, these tasks and goals can be achieved.
Focus group meeting with community leaders
Once the district of Tirrasses was identified for the pilot, the first step was to understand the challenges faced by the various municipality departments in carrying out their responsibilities and the long-term goals of the Human Development Plan for the district. This was followed by a focus group meeting with women community leaders between the ages of 16 and 32, most of them unmarried with kids. The discussion focused on the problems and the needs of the single mothers in Tirrasses and how these could be facilitated using SoCCs. The SoCCs team decided to kickstart the pilot with 50 women from the Ponderosa neighborhood in Tirrasses. Menus for SoCCs Earnings and SoCCs Spendings were developed with the information gathered from the above mentioned processes.
SoCCs Earnings and Spendings Menus
As for now, the team is identifying various partners and stakeholders; and negotiating the provision of goods and services for SoCCs Spendings. Registration for the Pilot is set to open in the last two weeks of September with the six months pilot earmarked to begin in October. We look forward to keeping you updated on the progress of the pilot!
– Jeenal Sawla is the Pilot Manager and Candidate in Master of Urban Planning at Harvard University