Root Causes of Irregular Migration

People in the Latin American and Caribbean region leave their homes due to violence and insecurity, lack of viable economic opportunities, food insecurity, and increasingly harsh environmental conditions that exhaust their household resources. With corruption and impunity commonplace, people can also lose faith that their governments will effectively meet their needs.

Addressing the Root Causes

Five decades of experience has taught us that people are less likely to uproot their lives and migrate if they can remain safely at home, earn a living, provide for their families, and have a say in making decisions to improve their quality of life. We also understand that people are most motivated to stay when they can tackle and see improvement on multiple issues.

Our grantee partners work in areas with a tendency for out-migration, where crime, violence, poverty, and inequality are widespread. We invest in community-led efforts to address these challenges and strengthen people’s lasting ties to their communities.

Quick facts


of all IAF grants are in the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala)


of our grantees in the Northern Triangle working in areas with gangs or organized crime


of project participants in the region are youth


communities in the Northern Triangle where our grantees are active


We fund promising homegrown ideas through small grants ($35,000-400,000 over several years) to groups with strong community roots.

Activities We Fund

Increase prosperity and local entrepreneurship

Grantee Asociación de Desarrollo Triunfeña has helped rural Honduran youth start 84 microenterprises, generating more than 150 jobs for youth entrepreneurs and community members. Based on their success, the municipal government has committed funds for a credit program and additional training for youth entrepreneurs.

Improve food security and sustainable agriculture

Grantee Asociación Agropecuaria de Mujeres Produciendo en la Tierra has helped women in El Salvador learn to produce food sustainably, increasing their families’ ability to get the food they need. Through these efforts, families have also increased their family income by 20–30% on average and reinvested their profits into their small businesses.

Strengthen civil society engagement with public and private sectors

Grantee Red Maya Cedimujer, a grassroots organization of young indigenous women leaders, has trained residents of 18 communities to audit development initiatives to make sure they follow Guatemalan law in awarding public contracts and spending public funds, reducing corruption and maximizing the return on public investments.

Encourage participation and confidence in democratic processes

Grantee Asociación Para el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Juventud worked with youth participants to propose to their municipal governments funding programs and services to address their urgent needs. As a result, the towns of Chiantla and Aguacatán established the first youth policies in Guatemala, and they partnered with local businesses to create a fund for youth-led projects.

Prevent violence and protect human rights

Grantee Organismo Cristiano de Desarrollo Integral de Honduras brings together representatives of local government, schools, police, and churches into citizen security roundtables to address rising violence and spur economic investment. Following the start of these roundtables in one municipality, homicides fell by 75% from 2019 to 2020.

Mobilize local and international resources for long-term development

Nicaraguan cacao and coffee cooperative Cooperativa de Servicios Múltiples Ríos de Agua Viva 21 de Junio R.L. tripled its profits since receiving its IAF grant by helping cacao farmers become more productive and certify their sustainable farming practices. The cooperative also attracted investment from a European foundation and established a revolving loan fund for farmers that has grown by 28%.

Further Reading

Load More Posts

Talk about community-led development!