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Colombia – Alternative Sustainable Rural Development

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Author: Steve Reifenberg
Witness for Peace: Organization profile and definition of the problem/opportunity for Development Advisory Teams Project. (International Development in Practice)

Organization: Witness for Peace

Profile

Witness for Peace (WFP) is a politically independent, nationwide grassroots organization of people committed to nonviolence and led by faith and conscience. WFP’s mission is to support peace, justice and sustainable economies in the Americas by changing U.S. policies and corporate practices that contribute to poverty and oppression in Latin America and the Caribbean. WFP currently has international teams in Colombia, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua and Cuba, as well as a membership base of 20,000 people in the U.S. In Colombia specifically, one of its projects focuses on U.S. drug policy and the effects of U.S. military assistance approved under Plan Colombia and the current consolidation plan. Aerial fumigations and manual eradication of coca have both been used under the guise of reducing drug supply, but have been largely unsuccessful.  Alternative development strategies arose as an incentive for farming communities to stop growing coca and also provide them with access to markets, but many communities WFP works with believe this strategy is underused and that their own community proposals for alternative development are ignored.

Witness for Peace website: http://www.witnessforpeace.org/

Definition of problem/opportunity

Witness for Peace (WFP) would like a group of students to help answer various questions, including:

  • What are some examples of community-based projects for sustainable development and sustainable agriculture that have been successful—either within Colombia, in the Andean region, or elsewhere around the world? How have these communities secured funding, resources, approval for their proposals?
  • How might WFP address issues unique to the armed conflict in Colombia, such as continued pressure from armed groups on vulnerable communities to keep growing coca and programmatic flaws with consolidation?
  • Are any changes to U.S. foreign aid policy necessary in order to allow community-based proposals on alternative development to succeed? If so, what are these and what strategies might be effective in changing U.S. policy?
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