During the presidency of Tony Saca, El Salvador qualified for more than $400 million from the US Millennium Challenge Account. The funds are designated for poverty reduction in the northern zone in the country. Probably the most prominent part of the Millennium Account project is a highway improvement project running east-west through that zone:
The overall project will be to rehabilitate, expand, rebuild and maintain 648km of highway, 331km of which correspond to the Longitudinal del Norte highway, which runs from the country's La Virgen border with Guatemala to its La Concepción border with Honduras, plus a total of 317km of intersecting routes.
The works will be funded with US$233mn of a US$461mn donation from the US Millennium Challenge Corporation, approved for the country in June 2006 to reduce poverty in the northern zone.
According to an article in the Nica Times, the Millennium project will continue in El Salvador under Funes:
The MCC compact with El Salvador focuses on education, productive development, water and sanitation services and road infrastructure. To date, $25.6 million has been spent and an additional $122 million contracted, leaving the majority of the compact yet to be executed over the next three years.
José Angel Quirós, executive director of FOMILENIO, says the MCC project has been a success in El Salvador because it's viewed as an integral part of the country's national development plan, rather than a political initiative by the U.S. or the Saca administration.
The biggest concern with the project, he said, is “how can we make sure this has the biggest impact possible on the zone?”
Quirós adds that he thinks the government should have an even grander vision of the project, viewing it not only as development for the Northern Zone but as a way of converting the marginalized region into a “motor of development for the rest of the country.”
Though he admits there is some uncertainty involved with the transition to the Funes government, Quirós says “thank God everything that has been said so far indicates there is going to be a continuation of the program.”