Political violence has deeply affected Colombia for over 40 years, resulting in the largest internally displaced population in the world. Though the security situation has improved, a need persists for both short-term and longer-term humanitarian and development programs for internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Global Communities' wide range of IDP programs have assisted over 176,000 families. Global Communities began working in Colombia in 2001 to address the immediate needs of displaced families, and our programs quickly expanded to create long-term economic opportunities and community rehabilitation for IDPs and vulnerable communities.
Global Communities is implementing the USAID-funded Colombia Responde Initiative in the Montes de Maria region of Colombia to re-establish the Government of Colombia’s presence in the region, with a particular focus on creating the conditions necessary to promote sustainable peace and security for displaced communities to return to their homes.
The ANDA program (“Go Forward”), funded by BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities, aims to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life for vulnerable communities in the Monteria and Cartagena municipalities of Colombia. With a strong focus on internally displaced people, ANDA works closely with communities and local governments to access and employ municipal, departmental and national resources to address community priorities.
Improvement of School Infrastructure
Working with the Ministry of Education, Global Communities is providing both short and long-term assistance to schools in Colombia affected by flooding. In the regions of Sucre and Bolivar, Global Communities is responding with the provision of educational services in temporary classrooms, teaching materials, school kits, school transport and other resources to affected areas. Global Communities is also working with the Ministry to rehabiliate and reconstruct damaged schools and restore the educational infrastructure to its original state.
With funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Global Communities is working to improve the quality of life and survival of persons living with HIV or AIDS in Colombia. Together with the government and local organizations, Global Communities is using social mobilization to combat stigma and discrimination, promote human rights and universal access to comprehensive treatment services and antiretroviral therapy (ART). Working with local organizations in 75 Colombian municipalities, program activities focus on the displaced youth population; men who have sex with men; sex workers; transgender, transsexuals and transvestites; prisoners; street people and other people living with HIV or AIDS and key populations at a higher risk for contracting HIV.
With funding from the US Department of State, Global Communities partnered with the Government of Colombia to create a “route of assistance” to meet the immediate needs of families displaced by violence in Colombia. This program offered support to families in the most critical first 90 days of displacement, connecting them with services and supplies in their new surroundings. In 2009, the Government of Colombia adopted this strategy as official policy, and it is still being implemented across the country. Global Communities continues to work with the Government of Colombia and civil society organizations to strengthen thier ability to implement new policies and laws set up to assist returnees and victims of violence, while continuing to address their immediate humanitarian needs.
With funding from the Government of Colombia's Department of Social Prosperity, Global Communities is providing construction kits to victims of violence, so families can rebuild their homes and other community infrastructure that has been damaged during the conflict. These efforts build upon our past programs, which focused on providing livelihoods and psychosocial support to disabled displaced people, survivors of gender-based violence, and families of disappeared or missing people.
Supporting Microfinance Institutions
Global Communities serves as a technical assistance provider and second-tier lender to 22 local microfinance institutions, who, in turn, lend to approximately 6,000 people. Express Microfinanzas has also branched into first-tier lending, providing direct loans to clients.
Assistance to Displaced Afro-Colombians
Afro-Colombians face unique challenges after displacement. Uprooted from rural villages and torn from traditional societal and family ties, the majority flees to urban centers, where their cultural practices, community ties and basic identity suffer. Since 2002, Global Communities has been working with these communities in Cali, Tumaco, Buenaventura and Barranquilla to reduce conflict and maintain Afro-Colombian customs and traditions in their new context. Utilizing community participation methods, Global Communities brought communities together to create community councils and address the underlying causes of conflict such as poverty, lack of economic opportunity, and erosion of traditional support networks.