The city government aims to improve governance and increase service delivery to certain sectors (neighborhoods). The aim is to increase the strength and legitimacy of the state at the expense of organized criminal governance. The intervention will begin in Medellin and within the first year we expect to expand the program and evaluation to neighboring municipalities.
The office of the Secretary of Security in Medellin currently has a staff of city liaisons who work to maintain strong relationships with between the government and the community.
The street-level staff members in these units are community organizers and city liaisons ("community organizer" for short). Normally, the Secretariat of Security has 1-2 community organizers per comuna -- about 1 per 6,000 to 12,000 people. For the intervention, the Secretariat of Security will aim to have their usual one community organizer for the comuna, plus an additional 40 community organizers dedicated to 40 small sectors assigned to treatment. A sector is an informal neighborhood within a comuna and typically has an area between 1.5 to 4.5 Hectares.
Thus, the city will aim to provide treated sectors with roughly one city community organizer per 1300-2000 people. The city has very poor population estimates, however (a sign of state weakness), and so these population figures are at best guesses.
The main roles of the community organizers will be to:
1. Encourage the organization and functioning of community governance organizations and social groups, including locally elected bodies.
2. Connect residents to appropriate dispute resolution bodies in the city government, including the police, courts, or dispute resolution officials and train them in effective communication and dispute resolution skills.
3. Coordinating delivery of existing city services where needed (such as education, health, welfare, legal, and maintenance services).
Community organizers are not just simple liaisons. The idea is for them to interact with the community, get to know people individually, identify problems, capabilities and social capital, as well as the nature of criminal governance in the specific neighborhoods, to build the solutions from the bottom up. This implies there is not a predetermined strategy from the top, but rather that the day to day activities by these community organizers should be adaptive.
Community organizers are not the only face of the state but an interface that eases the way in which governance is provided. Once community organizers have identify main problems of the community they can use the networking of the liason of the Secretary of Security to address the problem to the right municipal agency. They should also identify whether community governance organizations are able to substitute for public officials as a first resource, and request the strengthening of these organizations with dispute resolution techniques that would be addressed with training received by the community organizers.