Consolidation and Enhanced Livelihood Initiative – Northern and Southern Regions (CELI N/S) Project
More than five decades of conflict and negligible government influence in rural Colombia have forced its people to grapple with poverty, violence, and a weak economy.
Colombia’s 52-year conflict has debilitated some its rural areas, where the topography is difficult, the road infrastructure minimal, and the state presence weak. Negligible state presence in these areas has allowed illegally armed groups to form and narco-trafficking activities to proliferate, afflicting populations with high levels of poverty and violence. In the absence of effective, transparent governance, coca production and illegal mining also fuel an illicit economy and create inequitable economic growth. The USAID Consolidation and Enhanced Livelihood Initiative – Northern and Southern Regions (CELI N/S) project promoted peace and security in these conflict-affected places. Focusing on remote, isolated communities in Colombia, CELI N/S’s methodology prioritized the empowerment of local organizations. The program awarded grants to community and producer associations to carry out activities that foster peace and stability. Activities included repairing basic infrastructure, increasing food security, advancing agricultural production and marketing, and developing and strengthening local organizations. As communities continued to invest in sustainable social capital, they assumed a greater role in their development.
In this video, CELI N/S highlights their work in Anorí, a rural town in Northwest Antioquia. The project supported small-scale producer associations such as APANOR (Asociación de Paneleros de Anorí – APANOR) for coffee and ASPROQUEMA (Asociacion de productores de queso del Municipio de Anori) for cheese and dairy, in improving organizational capacity and quality control in production and processing. As a result, these associations are now important community leaders and valuable allies to small producers. Additionally, the video also highlights AMMUAN (Asociación Municipal de Mujeres Anoriceñas), a women’s association that advocates for and empowers local women as leaders, creating sustainable and equitable opportunities for women in Anorí. The work that CELI N/S did in Anorí shows the impact of an approach that focused on promoting sustainable peace and security as well as stimulating rural economic growth.
Project Spotlight: La Paz Silenciosa
The Colombian public television station RTVC produced a 10-part documentary series about the impact that CELI N/S beneficiaries, many who received grants from the project, have made on their communities and local economies. The series puts women, youth, ethnic minorities, and community leaders in the spotlight, highlighting the work of grassroots organizations in regions historically affected by illicit crops and armed conflict. Together, these protagonists, whose motto is “silent peace,” are building a more peaceful Colombia.