Government of Canada

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada


Table of Contents

International development projects in Colombia

Map of Colombia

CIDA disbursements in Colombia: 2011-2012

CIDA disbursements in Colombia
Amount in $M
Long-term development assistance
Total 27.00
A woman in front of her house in Bogota, Colombia. © ACDI-CIDA/Ellen Tolmie


Colombia is one of the oldest democracies in Latin America with a diversified economy, solid functioning institutions, progressive laws, an active civil society, and abundant natural resources. However, a decades-long conflict fuelled by the illicit drug trade continues to hinder Colombia's development and impedes attempts to tackle poverty and inequality. Conflict and ongoing violence prevents the expansion of social programs in certain areas.

Colombia has a relatively well-performing economy and is well equipped to deal with the economic crisis, due to sound macroeconomic fundamentals, adequate fiscal reserves, and a credible stimulus plan. Nevertheless, despite economic growth, income inequality persists, and 7.4 million individuals (16 percent of the population) live on less than US$1.25/day. One of the key challenges for the Colombian government, also a result of the conflict, is that the country has the world's second largest population of internally displaced persons (almost to four million).

Children and youth, representing 57 percent of the poor and 42 percent of Colombia's total population, are particularly vulnerable to inequality, poverty, and conflict. Their situation is exacerbated by their exposure to landmines, internal displacement, and their susceptibility to becoming targets for sexual exploitation and recruitment by illegal groups. Across the country, 16 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 17 (almost two million), most of them in rural areas, fall outside the education system, most of them in rural areas.

Thematic Focus

In 2009, as part of Canada's new aid effectiveness agenda, Colombia was selected as a country of focus for international development.

The overall goal of Canada's program in Colombia is to improve human rights and reduce the inequality and poverty of the most vulnerable, with a specific focus on children and youth. By focusing on children and youth, Canada will help break the cycles of violence that have plagued Colombia and will prepare future generations to better integrate into licit economic activity. In addition, Canada's work on economic development will ensure that youth and campesinos, or farm workers, have sustainable productive options to illegal activities.

The Government of Colombia has identified its development priorities in its national development plan (in Spanish). Canada's program in Colombia supports the objectives of the Government of Colombia to achieve its development goals.

Children and youth

Canada continues to support the rights of the most vulnerable groups in Colombia, with a special focus on children and youth to promote and protect their rights, increase their access to early childhood education, and help prevent their exposure and involvement in violence, illicit activities and illegal groups.

Key anticipated results
  • Increased access to education and conflict-resolution skills for children and youth in rural areas
  • Developed policies and programs for children and youth affected by internal displacement, human rights violations, and injuries caused by landmines
  • Increased access to early childhood education for children

Economic growth

Canada continues to support the participation of the most vulnerable groups in Colombia's economic development through the delivery of market-driven skills-for-employment programs and by supporting effective corporate social responsibility in the private sector and providing trade-related technical assistance. Canada also supports crop diversification as an alternative to coca production in rural areas and provides support to increase agricultural production, productivity and access to markets.

Key anticipated results
  • Implemented community-level sustainable development projects with extractive companies, regional and local governments, and non-governmental organizations
  • Provided youth and their families with the skills to develop and implement lawful and sustainable economic development projects as an alternative to coca production

Progress on Aid Effectiveness

Colombia adheres to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (PDF, 317 KB, 23 pages). Its international cooperation strategy for 2007-2010 (in Spanish), which guides Colombia's international development cooperation, is coordinated through the Presidential Program for Social Action (Accion Social).

Canada actively takes part in the G24, a group of 24 countries and international institutions that have an ongoing and constructive dialogue with the Colombian government and civil society on issues of development, peace, and human rights. Canada has chaired the G24 twice and is presiding over the G-24's Cooperation Sub-Group in 2010.

Achievements 2011-2012

  • Trained 17,200 members of the Colombian Armed Forces and the National Police on humanitarian law and children's rights
  • Trained more than 6,400 children, adolescents, and adults on the importance of child protection and rights and gender equality via workshops and awareness-raising activities
  • Helped 2,268 vulnerable young people and 590 adults gain access to alternative education
  • Trained 1,786 teachers on new teaching practices, leading to better educational performance
  • Trained 900 youth on how to improve their life skills and 504 youth on income-generating activities via training workshops
  • Trained more than 500 children, youth and parents on how to prevent sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation through community awareness activities and events

Achievements 2010-2011

Children and youth

  • Helped train 993 teachers to use flexible education models designed for vulnerable and displaced children and youth, reaching 1,902 out-of-school indigenous, Afro-Colombian, and vulnerable children and youth
  • Helped train 8,000 officers of the Colombian Armed Forces and 7,200 members of the National Police on International Humanitarian Law, Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Colombian Code on Children and Adolescents
  • Provided access to education and health services in their communities for 1,750 boys and girls in 10 municipalities of the Department of Tolima identified as being at risk of becoming involved in child labour

Economic growth

  • Helped provide 2,250 children with permanent access to a balanced and nutritional diet of fresh and healthy foods produced on family land holdings, and trained 5,099 people in agroecology, organizational processes, and environmental conservation through Ecofondo's Agricultural Alternatives Program

Achievements 2009-2010

Children and youth

  • Helped prevent the involvement of 45,000 children in illegal activities
  • Helped 40 schools implement measures for inclusive and quality education
  • Trained 357 teachers from seven schools in alternative peace-building approaches to communication
  • Helped 4,000 people understand their responsibility under UN Resolution 1612 on the protection of children in areas of armed conflict
  • In Nariño, helped 11 schools and three adult learning centres complete, or advance, their plans for improving education
  • Enrolled 2,500 children and youth (1,533 girls) in alternative, back-to-school programs

Economic growth

  • Helped Ecofondo, comprising 200 Colombian NGOs, develop environmentally sustainable agricultural projects and programs, as an alternative to growing coca
  • Helped produce more than 1,307 acres of agroecological land, benefiting 1,008 families directly and 30,000 community members indirectly

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