Colombia is one of the oldest democracies in Latin America. It has a diversified and fast-growing economy and an active civil society. It is also marked by significant income inequality, weak state presence in certain rural areas, and a decades-long internal armed conflict between the government, guerrilla movements, and armed criminal groups. This conflict has subjected the civilian population to a range of human rights violations and threats to their security. Colombia has the world's largest population of internally displaced persons (at least 6.8 million) and the second largest number of landmine victims after Afghanistan.

In recent years, the Government of Colombia has succeeded in reducing extreme poverty and in improving basic services in some rural areas. It has also initiated peace discussions with the largest guerilla movement, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).‎ In June 2016, the government and the FARC agreed to a ceasefire and the laying down of arms—a historic step towards a final peace agreement that will end the last guerrilla war in the Americas.

Find out what Canada is doing to support development in Colombia.

Thematic focus

Colombia is a country of focus for the Government of Canada's international development efforts.

The overall goal of Canada's development program in Colombia is to improve human rights and reduce inequality and poverty for the most vulnerable, particularly for women, children, and ethnic minorities. Canada's development projects focus on child protection and education and on stimulating inclusive economic growth. The Government of Colombia has identified its development priorities in its National Development Plan 2014-2018. Canada's program in Colombia supports the objectives of the Government of Colombia to achieve these priorities.

Inclusive economic growth

Canada helps vulnerable groups participate in Colombia's economic development by supporting agricultural cooperatives and producer associations, improving credit and insurance for small-scale farmers, creating technical-vocational and entrepreneurship training for youth, and by assisting government agencies to better manage Colombia's natural resources. Canada also works in partnership with the Colombian and Canadian private sectors to help diversify the rural economy and improve market access for rural producers and small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs).

Key anticipated results

  • Community-level sustainable development projects are implemented effectively, in partnership with regional and local governments, non-governmental organizations, and private sector companies.
  • Vulnerable groups (including small-scale farmers, women, youth, and ethnic minorities) receive support for sustainable economic development initiatives.

Child protection and education

Colombia's internal armed conflict has exposed children and youth to violence, exploitation, and abuse. Many lack adequate education and training opportunities, putting them at-risk of even further exclusion and abuse. Canada's development program works with Colombian state institutions and civil society organizations to protect the rights of children and youth, and particularly girls and young women. It works to improve education access and quality in conflict-affected areas, ensuring that schools are "safe spaces". This improves life options for young people, enabling them to contribute fully to their families and their communities. Canada invests in this generation of young Colombians, the peacebuilders who have the power to end the cycle of violence and conflict.

Key anticipated results

  • Increased access to education and conflict-resolution skills for children and youth in conflict-affected areas
  • Policies and programs developed specifically for children and youth affected by internal displacement, human rights violations, and injuries caused by landmines

Ensuring aid effectiveness

Colombia is a signatory to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (PDF, 317 KB, 23 pages). Its Roadmap for International Cooperation 2015-2018 is led by the Presidential Agency for Cooperation (APC Colombia). Canada’s assistance is fully aligned with the Government of Colombia’s priorities for international cooperation: peacebuilding, rural development, and environmental sustainability.

Donor coordination

Canada is a member of the Donors Coordination Group for Colombia. Canada chairs its International Cooperation Gender Coordination Group in Colombia (2016-2017) and its sub-group on Human Rights (2016). Canada is also a member of the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Post-Conflict in Colombia. These coordination bodies maintain an ongoing and constructive dialogue with the Colombian government and with civil society to help advance development coordination, gender equality, peace implementation, and the protection of human rights defenders.



Achievements 2014-2015

Children and youth

  • Helped 36,100 girls and boys access quality education in targeted municipalities of the departments of Nariño and Cauca
  • Trained 13,187 vulnerable children and youth on improved sexual and reproductive health practices, nutrition, hygiene and/or sanitation
  • Reintegrated 6,618 out-of-school children and youth in conflict-affected areas into the school system via flexible education models adapted to their realities
  • Trained 435 children, adolescents and parents in Cartagena and Tumaco on how to prevent sexual exploitation, violence and abuse (2,362 since 2010)
  • Supported the resettlement of internally displaced communities via improved access to basic services such as water, sanitation, education and health for 1,430 households (7,239 since 2013)

Economic growth

  • Launched four new rural development projects (CAN $60 million) to help small-scale farmers increase their production, access credit and crop insurance, grow viable cooperative businesses, and connect to new markets
  • Helped 357 displaced families improve their economic livelihoods and supported the legal recognition of the landholdings of two displaced communities (total population 6,545)
  • Provided technical and vocational training to 2,643 youth in the conflict-affected department of Nariño to improve their skills in areas such as agro-industry, waste management or livestock production, leadership and gender equality

Achievements 2013-2014

Children and youth

  • Helped 70,998 children and adolescents (48% male, 52% female) at risk of recruitment by armed actors develop their personal development plans and protect themselves from violence, exploitation and abuse
  • Improved access to flexible schooling models for 2,416 out-of-school children (45% girls, 55% boys)
  • Supported the resettlement of internally displaced communities via improved access to basic services such as water, sanitation, education and health for 5,809 households

Economic growth

  • Directly supported 1,882 conflict-affected families in improving the production and commercialization of their agricultural products and developing new skills that deterred them from illicit crop cultivation
  • Provided technical vocational training in tourism, port logistics and health care for 700 youth in Cartagena

Achievements 2012-2013

Ensuring security and stability

  • Trained 47,430 children and adolescents on how to protect themselves from violence, exploitation and abuse.
  • Provided 12,835 adolescents and youths with sexual education and reproductive health services.
  • Fifty-three (53) tourism businesses were certified with a Code of Conduct that commits them to preventing commercial sexual exploitation on their premises.
  • Helped 9 indigenous and Afro-Colombian organizations develop community Prevention and Protection Plans that protect youth from violence and exploitation in conflict-affected areas.

Children and youth

  • Helped reintegrate 11,783 out-of-school girls and boys back into the Colombian school system.
  • Helped train 12,867 family members and caregivers to provide quality childcare for 617,616 children (0-5 yrs old).
  • Trained 11,700 youth in leadership and organizational skills in conflict-affected areas of Nariño Department.
  • Trained 2,557 youth (1,402 women and 1,155 men) in leadership skills and gender equality in Nariño Department.

Stimulating economic growth

Helped youth entrepreneurs prepared sixty (60) business plans and provided them with training in sustainable agriculture and crop management.

By working with Canadian and international partners, Canada is working to improve the health of women and children globally, which includes the country of Colombia.

Visit the Canada delivers results for the world’s women and children page for more information.

Path to peace

Canada supports Colombia's path to peace.

2014-2015 international assistance disbursements to Colombia (in millions of dollars)

Global Affairs Canada 37.77
Other departments and sources 1.72
Total 39.48