Impact Evaluation of USAID’s Community-Based Crime and Violence Prevention Approach in Central America: Regional Report for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama

The main finding, on average, of this multi-year impact evaluation of the community-based interventions is that in several key respects the programs have been a success. Specifically, the outcomes in the treatment communities improved more (or declined less) than they would have if USAID’s programs had not been administered. This conclusion is based on evidence from extensive survey data gathered from more than 29,000 respondents living in 127 treatment and control neighborhoods and by 848 qualitative stakeholder interviews and 44 focus groups. The community-based crime prevention program under CARSI produces a significant reduction in the expected level of crime victimization and violence, resulted in a significant increase in the expected level of citizens’ sense of security, and is responsible for a significant decrease in the expected level of neighborhood disorder, such as loitering and gang presence. Satisfaction with police performance has increased significantly as a result of the community-based crime prevention program. Indirect effects of the community-based crime prevention program under CARSI values include strengthening democratic values, which have increased significantly over the expected level in the absence of the program. Qualitative data consistently indicate the importance of schools, churches, and neighborhood development associations in crime prevention.