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Peace and Development go Hand in Hand in Colombia

Building peace and confronting poverty in regions affected by violence in the country

July 16, 2014

The Regional Development and Peace Program demonstrated achievements in: i) reducing the risk of displacement and mitigating its effects, through the installation of basic assets; ii) generating socioeconomic stabilization of the participants through income generation and recovery of a social support network; and iii) preventing violence and reducing vulnerability, through the strengthening of participatory democracy.
60%

of beneficiaries enrolled in income-generation and social, cultural and environmental management subprojects.

Challenge

Colombia, despite its impressive economic development faces a sustained challenge of high levels of inequality. The internal conflict and the high rates of violence have had a negative impact on the social and economic development of the country.  Between 4.7 and 5.7 million people were internally displaced between 1985 and 2012. The conflict is waged primarily in rural areas over control of territory. It takes place in regions characterized by weak institutions and, in many cases, corruption and cronyism, high levels of impunity, expansion of illicit crop cultivation, and little opportunities for participation by civil society institutions. The Project assumed the challenge of assisting low income and displaced populations in rural and urban communities in conflict-affected regions with the aim to reduce the risk of their exposure to conflict and mitigate the negative impact of possible derived effects. In particular the project utilized two approaches in conflict-affected regions in the midst of violence: i) building assets to mitigate the risk of displacement, and ii) restoring a basic safety net for displaced and vulnerable families as a vital first step in their social and economic stabilization.

Solution

Over a 14 year period,  the Project designed, tested and validated a development innovation (intervention model) that included three main components:

i)  a set of guiding principles of development to create conditions for lasting and durable peace;

ii) a proven methodology, which is highly inclusive and follows a step by step process that starts small and local and gains increasing size, complexity and influence over time; and

iii) an institutional arrangement to manage the activities based on a partnership between civil society organizations and the government (at the national and territorial level) facilitated by the World Bank. The Project developed social, economic and environmental assets and community support for displaced and vulnerable families in the priority areas of the conflict-affected regions through a wide range of subprojects, from food security and income generation to social and cultural promotion.  

Results 

  • The Project had positive impacts on overcoming poverty, which included: i) direct effects on the early stabilization of the vulnerable and displaced population whose poverty has been exacerbated by the armed conflict; ii) greater social capacities for confronting poverty, associated with greater social integration, the strengthening of social organizations and networks, and an increase in community reciprocity; and iii) an increase in the level of trust and community relations with public institutions, helping 7 out of 10 participants to enroll in State social programs associated with the fight against extreme poverty and the provision of assistance to the displaced population.
  • Social, economic and environmental assets were generated for a total of 89, 367 beneficiaries, more than 60% of whom were enrolled in income-generation and social, cultural and environmental management subprojects. More than 700 subprojects were implemented by social and community based organizations.
  • In terms of institutional and organizational strengthening, the Project strengthened the State at the local level, as it increased citizen and political participation, and effectively involved beneficiary organizations in matters of municipal life. 664 beneficiary organizations were strengthened during the life of the Project. 60% increased their capacity indexes above the initial levels. Through the direct implementation of several types of subprojects, these organizations have increased their capabilities and are influencing public policies at the regional and local level.
  • Finally, the Peace and Development Program has been incorporated in three National Development Plans (2002-2006, 2006-2010 and 2010-2014), and its innovative intervention model has inspired  several National Policy Documents (CONPES) in the following areas: Victim’s Integral Reparation, Community Action Boards, Children and Young People Recruitment Prevention, Promotion of Citizen’s Participation, Territorial Consolidation and Reconstruction, Fight Against Corruption, Youth National Policy and other national policies (Democratic Culture and Entrepreneurship).

Bank Group Contribution

IBRD provided US$30 million in 2004 and an additional financing of US$7.8 million in 2010 to the Government of Colombia. The European Union contributed with about US$130 million as counterpart funding of the Peace and Development Program, and the partner organizations at the regional level leveraged about US$12 million between 2004 and 2012. Four operations were associated to the Peace and Development Program: Gender in Peace and Development (US$100,000 Gender Trust Fund); Institutional Strengthening of Municipalities with Afro-descendant Populations (US$1,58 million from the  Institutional Development Fund), Human Rights in Peace and Development Regional Programs (US$400,000 from the Nordic Trust Fund), and Access to Opportunities  for Young People (US1,73 million from the Japan Social Development Fund), all administered by the World Bank.

Partners

The partnership arrangement (listed in the previous section) allowed the participation of multiple parties and led to a productive combination and balance of “insiders and outsiders”. That is, combining in depth contextual knowledge, motivation and commitments, credibility, trust, legitimacy, and continuity provided by the leaders and staff of the Partner Organizations in the field and, as time went on, also by the leaders of community-based organizations. External partners such as the government, the World Bank, United Nations and the European Union provided international experience, new ideas and techniques and external funding.

Moving Forward

All the Regional Peace and Development Programs incorporated into the Peace and Development Program have continued to operate after the end of the project and several of them are playing a key role in the formulation and implementation of peace and development related policies, particularly victims, rural development and participation. The intervention methodology of the Program during eight years of implementation has proven to be effective in relation to national agenda issues, in scenarios of both armed confrontation and transition, allowing the recovery of poor communities affected by the violence, as well as the generation of conditions for the arrival of more robust institutional interventions. In recent years, the lessons generated by the Program have been employed for the design of public policies, as well as the active participation of the  Program’s Partner Organizations in various endeavors. Recently, the World Bank has created a Multidonor Peace Fund to continue promoting peace and development in Colombia. Project’s to be financed under this Fund can benefit from the Peace and Development Program’s lessons and can take advantage of the institutional capacities that have been installed at the regional and local level.  

Beneficiaries

Project’s beneficiaries are poor and vulnerable families, as well as displaced people that return or are relocated; community organizations, small producer associations and micro-businesses, municipal governments; partner organizations presented in the legal representatives of the Regional Peace and Development Programs.

In Project’s beneficiaries’ words, the Peace and Development Program has contributed to increased levels of reciprocity and trust in our communities; we have greater confidence in our public institutions,  particularly the police and the military;  we feel more responsible for our own future;  we have increased capacity and willingness to participate, to assume leadership positions and to influence public affairs; we now resolve conflict by using community strategies and prefer a collective action over an individual one to address threats by illegal armed actors.