Results around the world – Colombia
Colombia is a growing middle-income country and an important political, development and commercial partner for Canada.
In 2016, the Government of Colombia concluded a historic peace agreement with the country’s largest guerrilla group, FARC. This ended a 50-year internal armed conflict that displaced almost 7 million people internally. The conflict also resulted in one of the highest numbers of landmine casualties in the world. Unfortunately, despite progress toward peace and stability, significant challenges remain in many regions of Colombia where there is still limited state presence. The country must cope with power struggles among non-state actors and, most recently, added pressure on basic services from an influx of Venezuelan migrants fleeing difficult conditions in their country. Poverty, violence, human rights abuses and trafficking of illegal drugs continue to be pervasive, particularly in rural and historically conflict-affected areas.
Canada has supported development, humanitarian assistance, peace and security initiatives in Colombia for more than 40 years. It has worked to ensure respect for human rights and has responded to the challenges faced by Colombia’s most vulnerable populations, including:
- rural women
- Indigenous peoples and other minorities
- child victims of violence and exploitation
- internally displaced people
- smallholder farmers
- landmine-affected communities
- underprivileged youth
Canada’s international assistance focuses on three areas:
- human dignity (including rural education, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and humanitarian assistance—as needed and appropriate)
- growth that works for everyone (including economic empowerment for rural women and underemployed youth, agricultural development, and mobilization of skilled Canadian volunteers)
- peace and security (including support for Colombia’s stabilization and longer term peacebuilding efforts, as well as the objectives of Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security)
Through all initiatives, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are at the centre of Canada’s assistance, tackling barriers so that women and girls can reach their highest potential, make meaningful contributions to peace and security efforts, and break the cycle of poverty and gender-based violence.
- Canada improved access to quality education for over 25,600 children and youth (53% women and girls) living in some of Colombia’s most conflict-affected rural areas. Canada’s assistance also supported the training of over 1,000 teachers in gender-sensitive curriculum, school improvement planning and flexible learning models to provide education to young mothers and other vulnerable populations that traditional schooling does not reach.
- Canada supported technical and vocational training and related services for over 10,500 beneficiaries—primarily women and underprivileged youth—to help them develop leadership and economic empowerment skills that will enable them to find sustainable employment alternatives to criminal activity and illicit crop cultivation.
- Canada’s investments in rural development supported the economic empowerment of over 7,000 rural women, enabling their equal participation with men as decision-makers in agricultural cooperatives and associations, as well as their control over resources such as income, credit, infrastructure and land.
- Canada’s development assistance helped over 16,000 small-scale farmers and entrepreneurs to build viable businesses, access credit and crop insurance and connect to new markets. Canada’s assistance benefited 131 agricultural cooperatives and rural organizations through financial management training, technical assistance and accompaniment, and advice on new financing mechanisms.
- Canada’s support to demining efforts contributed to the clearance of 29,000 square metres and the destruction of 42 explosive devices, benefiting almost 2,000 people in five of Colombia’s most mine-contaminated departments. Additionally,the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOPs) supported quality control of demining activities, including 1,926 monitoring visits to ongoing operations and confirmation that 873,580 square metres of land were deemed free of suspicion of mines and released for safe usage.
- Canada’s humanitarian assistance programming helped provide mental health care to violence-affected people and families and quality comprehensive medical care to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in the cities of Buenaventura and Tumaco. Canada also helped improve water and sanitation conditions for vulnerable crisis-affected families in the department of Putumayo through the construction of latrines and distribution of hygiene kits, and helped improve access to nutritional services for children and pregnant and lactating women in the department of Meta.
- Through PSOPs, Canada supported additional action in support of peace consolidation. For example, PSOPs programming built the capacity of Colombian authorities to implement prevention and protection mechanisms for civil society actors (supporting authorities to address 6,795 protection cases). Programming also trained 105 women from five indigenous communities in peace process monitoring, and supported 40 advocacy activities in which indigenous women influenced the inclusion of a gender and ethnic perspective in peace implementation efforts.
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