El Salvador is currently negotiating with the US Millennium Challenge Corporation to obtain a $440 million grant for poverty reduction and economic development. I previously wrote about El Salvador's application here. Now a recent item on the website of the Center for Global Development has raised questions about the relationship between the road building El Salvador wants to fund and poverty reduction:
Road to growth, but with poverty reduction? El Salvador is another road-dominated compact, namely a highway to the North Zone and a network of connecting roads. While in theory highways and rural roads can better connect the poor to growth--and infrastructure in developing countries has been under-funded over the last decade-- there is no evidence that El Salvador conducted a real poverty impact assessment that evaluates exactly who will be served, how many people will actually benefit, and if the roads will serve their needs (what kind of access is most important to the people it is designed to serve? Schools? Health facilities? Markets? And will the roads actually provide this connectivity?) There is some concern that those who will benefit most from the road system will be the big Canadian mining companies and other multinationals with interests in the area.