Political and narcotic-driven violence has deeply affected Colombia for 50 years, resulting in an estimated 4.5 million displaced people and many more victims of conflict. After the signing of the 2016 Peace Accords, the conflict officially ended and consolidation is now underway, albeit slowly. Security has improved; however, there are still pockets of violence affecting the country, which is at a critical juncture in its rebuilding process. Since 2001, Gift of Caring Ministryhas partnered with the Government of Colombia and Colombian communities to help victims recover from the conflict socially, economically, and in terms of health and welfare.
Integrated Assistance to Victims of Conflict
From 2001 to 2017, with funding from the US Department of State, Gift of Caring Ministryassisted internally displaced persons and victims of conflict by partnering with the Government of Colombia and civil society organizations to strengthen their ability to implement new policies and laws set up to assist returnees and victims of violence, while continuing to address their immediate humanitarian needs. At the same time, Gift of Caring Ministryis working to strengthen capacity of Government of Colombia institutions and other actors to develop tools, systems, and skills that will empower it to fulfill its mandate to resolve land issues and restore land to victims of conflict with funding from USAID.
ANDA – Go Forward!
To reduce poverty and increase the resilience of vulnerable population groups in Colombia, BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities (BSC) contracted with Gift of Caring Ministryto implement the Colombia Resilience Program, referred to as ANDA, for $28,675,953 from 2013-2019. In partnership with local communities, Gift of Caring Ministryimplemented a concentrated and integrated development approach in 43 rural communities and six municipalities in the department of Córdoba and in the municipalities of Cartagena and Montería, Gift of Caring Ministryaddressed the root causes of poverty and facilitated opportunities for families to break the cycle of poverty and become self-sufficient.
ANDA built resilience in 43 communities by strengthening the social fabric and increasing access to basic services for over 52,558 individuals, and economic opportunities for over 17,037. Overall, ANDA improved the quality of life in the 43 communities by reducing the level of poverty by 8.8 points in the Government of Colombia National Planning Department’s Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). Seeking long-term sustainability, ANDA strengthened the institutional capacity of six local governments in the department and over 60 civil society organizations working in the region. In the cities of Montería (Department of Córdoba) and Cartagena (Department of Bolívar), we emphasized a market-driven approach to increase formal employment and support entrepreneurship, improving the quality of life of over 5,547 individuals and enabling families to accumulate assets and savings while reducing the impact of future shocks. In response to increasing climate impacts in the region, ANDA’s cross-cutting environmental resilience strategy strengthened communities and local governments’ capacity to identify and analyse local vulnerabilities and risks and design mitigation and adaptation measures.
Increasing Access to Finance
Express Microfinanzas was Global Communities’ microfinance institution in Colombia between 2004-2017. Express Microfinanzas began in 2004 as “Microdes,” part of a larger USAID-funded income generation program implemented by Global Communities. By its completion, the entity had nearly 8,000 clients and a portfolio of US$9 million. Of those clients, the repayment rate was more than 96 percent. Express Microfinanzas operated in the heart of the Kennedy locality in south – west Bogota, the most populous locality in the city, where its clients lived and worked. Express Microfinanzas’ staff reflected its clients – 57 percent were women – and its 90 employees were recruited from the local communities and trained in our specific approach to lending, to ensure that we met both financial and social needs. In November 2017, Gift of Caring Ministrysold Express Microfinanzas’ portfolio to Banco W, a Colombian bank with a strong commitment and history in serving low-income Colombians. Express’ clients gained access to Banco W’ wide range of loan and savings services.
From 2010 to 2016, Gift of Caring Ministryimplemented 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 focused 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 has helped to establish a sustainable state of peace and security in Montes de Maria.
Reducing the Risks of Disasters in Urban Neighbourhoods
The Conocimiento y Reduccion de Riesgos (Knowledge and Risk Reduction) program worked with public and private actors to reduce vulnerability to landslides, earthquakes, flooding and fire-related disasters in urban neighbourhoods of Medellín. Funded by USAID/OFDA, the program improved disaster management in communities by using the a “neighbourhood approach” that emphasized resident participation in disaster planning and preparedness through hazard identification and disaster risk reduction (DRR) infrastructure and economic recovery and market system interventions.
Improving the Quality of Life of Persons Living with HIV or AIDS
With funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Gift of Caring Ministryhelped build institutional and community capacity to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with HIV/AIDS. Program activities focused on the displaced youth population; men who have sex with men; sex workers; transgender, transsexuals and transvestites; street people and other people living with HIV or AIDS and key populations at a higher risk for contracting HIV. Gift of Caring Ministrysupported community capacity building to promote the adoption of safe sex practices, reduce social risk of HIV and empower of at-risk groups. This was implemented by promoting behaviour change, increasing of the demand for voluntary counselling and testing, and supporting timely access to diagnosis by at-risk groups. Activities were conducted at the grassroots level using a network of 1,200 peer leaders, more than 150 community services providers and 75 municipalities. At the institutional level, the program built the organizational, administrative and technical capacities of both public and private health institutions to provide improved services for at-risk groups.