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.
Global Communities is also helping retunees to improve their living conditions and social infrastructure. Through the Construction Kit program, funded by the Government of Colombia, Global Communities is working with local partners to distribute construction kits and provide technical assistance to displaced and vulnerable populations across the country.
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.
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. Since its inception, Express Microfinanzas has disbursed more than $14 million to support the Colombian microfinance sector.
In 2004 with funding from the US Department of State, Global Communities partnered with the Government of Colombia to create a 10-step, 90-day “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. By creating a national strategy for internally displaced persons (IDP) attention and covering 30 cities, Global Communities was able to identify and provide support to as many Colombians as possible. In 2009, the Government of Colombia adopted this strategy as official policy, and it is still being implemented across the country. We have also implemented programs focusing on providing livelihoods and psychosocial support to disabled displaced people, survivors of gender-based violence, and families of disappeared or missing people.
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.