Programa de Educación, Salud y Alimentación (The Education, Health, and Nutrition Program of Mexico)

PROGRESA (now called Oportunidades) is one of the major programs of the Mexican government aimed at developing the human capital of poor households. PROGRESA began its operations in August of 1997 in an effort to break the entangling web of poverty where malnutrition, morbidity, high infant mortality rates, high fertility, school dropout rates and unhealthy living conditions prevail. As part of an overall strategy for poverty alleviation in Mexico, PROGRESA works in conjunction with other programs that are aimed at developing employment and income opportunities (such as the Temporary Employment Program, PET) and at facilitating the formation of physical capital, such as the State and Municipal Social Infrastructure Fund (FAIS).

At the end of 1999, PROGRESA covered approximately 2.6 million families or about 40% of all rural families and one-ninth of all families in Mexico. At that time, the program operated in almost 50,000 localities, in more than 2,000 municipalities and 31 states. PROGRESA‘s budget of approximately $777 million in 1999 was equivalent to 0.2% of Mexico’s GDP. In all of Latin America, Mexico is implementing an effective program that is serving as a model and beginning to take hold across Latin America (e.g., Honduras, Nicaragua, and Argentina).