Raising incomes for internally displaced persons and host communities

Project description

Project title: PROINTEGRA – Economic integration of internally displaced persons and host communities in Norte de Santander
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Colombia
Lead executing agency: Colombian Presidential Agency of International Cooperation (APC)
Overall term: 2015 to 2019

Colombia. Displaced people from rural areas have settled on the periphery of the city of Cúcuta. © Mision Cúcuta Scalabriniana / GIZ

Context

For a period of more than five decades, Colombia was gripped by armed conflict. The peace accord signed in 2016 between the guerrilla organisation FARC and the Colombian Government offers little hope of achieving comprehensive peace, as not all guerrilla organisations in Colombia have acknowledged the agreement. The root causes of the conflict still persist, including land disputes, inadequate access to natural resources and the abuse of human rights, which have taken the lives of at least 220,000 people. Almost eight million Colombians have been displaced within their own country. Robbed of their livelihoods, they have settled on the outskirts of large cities. Most of these illegal slum suburbs have little access to public utilities or state services. Very few people receive adequate psychosocial support to help them cope with the often traumatic experiences they have had, and they lack the self-confidence needed to secure new employment. Many of these displaced people get by as street vendors or through odd jobs on the informal labour market. It is almost impossible for them to access start-up capital to set up micro enterprises.

Objective

Internally displaced persons and other disadvantaged groups are able to generate income to ensure their livelihood.

Approach

The project team is working with internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities in the administrative region of Norte de Santander, near the Venezuelan border. More than 60 per cent of the 230,000 IDPs here live in poverty. Cooperating with both governmental and non-governmental Colombian partners, the project addresses areas such as improving and expanding existing programmes on psychosocial support, devising ways to support micro enterprises in urban areas and promoting integration into the labour market. Returnees and poor farmers in the host communities are receiving support from Amero Consulting, an organisation subcontracted by GIZ, to expand their agricultural production. In addition, the project team is providing advice to residents of illegal slum suburbs and to the municipal administration on the process of legalisation. This will improve access to public services and allow people to build homes on their own parcels of land.

A working relationship built on trust provides the basis for cooperation with governmental and non-governmental Colombian institutions. The project team is advising partner institutions to enable them to provide citizen-focused and target group-oriented services. Effective approaches are being identified and fed into policy advice as good practices.

The project is part of the BMZ special initiative on Tackling the Root Causes of Displacement – Reintegrating Refugees. In the short term, it aims to provide assistance for both refugees and their host communities. In the long term, sustainable measures are envisioned to reduce the structural causes of displacement, such as social inequality and food insecurity. The project contributes to advancing the integration, reintegration and social development of IDPs and returnees in Colombia.

Results

The project is supporting 91 IDPs in setting up and managing micro enterprises, allowing them to generate income for themselves and their families. A total of 324 IDPs have participated in a professional training programme to enhance their construction skills. Through a cooperation programme with the state labour office, 77 young people have found their first jobs.

Colombia. The project supported Myriam Gómez in establishing her small stationery and copy shop © Mision Cúcuta Scalabriniana / GIZ

The project supports the residents of illegal slum suburbs with a high proportion of IDPs in legalising these settlements, one of the prerequisites for receiving basic public services. Five formerly illegal slum suburbs that are home to a total of 1,650 families have now officially been incorporated into the municipality of Cúcuta. This is an ongoing process. The project has so far provided support for 1,200 IDPs, helping them come to terms with traumatic psychosocial experiences.