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.
Colombia Responde is based on the following three objectives: improving governance and strengthening coordination mechanisms that enable ongoing civilian-led, whole-of-government interventions, with the participation of civil society; enhancing access to locally provided state services; and increasing licit livelihoods and job opportunities for conflict-affected populations. By working with multiple government entities, community and private sector stakeholders, Colombia Responde aims to establish a sustainable state of peace and security.
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. Visit the ANDA program website here.
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 rehabilitate 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 helping build institutional and community capacity to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with HIV/AIDS. 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. Global Communities is supporting community capacity building to promote the adoption of safe sex practices, reduce social risk of HIV and empower of at-risk groups. This is being implemented by promoting behavior change, increasing of the demand for voluntary counseling and testing, and supporting timely access to diagnosis by at-risk groups. Activities are being conducted at the grassroots level using a network of 1,200 peer leaders, 152 community services providers and 75 municipalities. At the institutional level, the program aims to build the organizational, administrative and technical capacities of both public and private health institutions to provide improved services for at-risk groups.
Since 2001, with funding from the US Department of State, Global Communities has been assisting internally displaced persons and victims of conflict by partnering with the Government of Colombia to create a “route of assistance” to meet the immediate needs of families displaced by violence. 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. The program also inlcudes a component for assisting victims of gender-based violence (GBV) by working with community-based organizations to build their capacity in GBV detection, prevention and response .
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.