Building Resilience in Rural Colombia

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Two years into our five-year partnership with international development organisation, Global Communities, the ANDA program is delivering sustainable change to alleviate poverty and hardship for vulnerable populations in six rural municipalities in the Department of Cordoba and the cities of Monteria and Cartagena in Colombia.

Funded by BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities, the rural component of ANDA (a Colombian Spanish word meaning ‘to go forward’) works to address the root causes of poverty and provide opportunities for families to break the poverty cycle. The program is focused on increasing access to basic services, including education, healthcare, water, sanitation and housing, as well as economic opportunities.

As a result of the program, families in the rural communities are improving their livelihoods through training in a range of agricultural practices. More than 400 farmers have graduated from training and have begun working in 17 producer associations and over 1,300 community members have received training in other agricultural production areas.

One of the program’s first activities was to establish Community Management Committees (CMCs) in 40 rural communities to provide a forum for discussion, dialogue, analysis and identification of issues.

Led by the CMCs, the communities completed and presented Community Development Plans documenting their long-term vision; their tangible and non-tangible assets; prioritisation of need; possible solutions; and key partners for development.

Evaluation has shown that local administrations have improved by an average of nine per cent in areas such as planning, resource management, monitoring, evaluation and accountability.

The ANDA program also offers technical assistance to municipalities in the formulation and submission of proposals for the national Royalty Fund and other government programs. To date, 52 proposals have been submitted and 18 proposals have been approved resulting in approximately US$9.1 million being available to municipalities for community projects.

In the cities of Monteria and Cartagena, the program is taking a market-driven approach to increase formal employment and support entrepreneurship. Success in income generation has a positive impact on the quality of life with respect to education, health, housing and the accumulation of material possessions and savings.

To date, approximately 380 families have a higher income and reported improvements in business growth and home improvements. Close to 300 new businesses have been created and are operating. Additionally, 45 associations of vulnerable communities and victims have received technical assistance to improve their revenue and expand their businesses, improving the quality of life of more than 700 participants and their families. A new group of 571 participants and 41 associations initiated their income generation projects during the past year.

Overall, the ANDA program has generated a large network of institutions with whom it is coordinating to work towards the goal of reducing poverty and improving the quality of life of communities prioritised by the program.