Colombia’s development situation in 2022 is dramatically different from what it was in 2015. The signing of the Peace Accord and the social and political instability in Venezuela have altered Colombia’s development landscape. These major changes have ushered in new opportunities and new challenges. USAID/Colombia’s 2020-2025 Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) faces this new situation directly.
DEVELOPMENT OBJECTIVE 1: A More Cohesive and Inclusive Society Resilient to Conflict
This DO focuses on building social cohesion and resilience to violence, both of which are precursors for a functional and peaceful democracy and Colombia’s Journey to Self-Reliance. Colombia’s Social Group Equality ranking and Safety and Security ranking in the J2SR Roadmap are both below average for low- and middle-income countries. As such, improving society’s inclusiveness, which improves equality, and cohesiveness, which improves security, are both critical to reduce violence. Also, strengthening Colombia’s peacebuilding mechanisms that address its violent past will help society move forward peacefully. Peacebuilding mechanisms that must be strengthened or advanced include reconciliation, reintegration, truth-telling, and psychosocial support processes. The Mission will engage key stakeholders to reach more people with its peacebuilding efforts. Such actions can help individuals recover from violence and communities prevent violence, as articulated in IRs 1.1 and 1.2. Colombian “society” includes all people living within Colombia, including non-Colombian migrants.
DEVELOPMENT OBJECTIVE 2: Strengthen Governance to Meet Citizen Needs and Increase Citizen Confidence in the State
A core objective of the 2016 Peace Accord was to increase state presence in rural, conflict-affected areas. Without a functional, trusted state presence, armed groups can exercise territorial control and illicit economies flourish. Improved and responsive governance remains essential for Colombia’s journey to self-reliance. Moreover, citizens and communities must participate actively in governance processes to ensure the government is accountable for delivering services that respond to citizen needs. These services include health, justice, education, security, human rights protections, and natural resource sustainability. Colombia is a longstanding democracy, but key measures on the J2SR Country Roadmap have not shown improvement between 2019 and 2020 in scores for civil society effectiveness, liberal democracy, and government effectiveness. These trends point to the need to strengthen governance. Moreover, this CDCS recognizes that inclusive, accountable, and representative governance contributes to other DOs. As such, this DO has shared IRs with DOs 1 and 3.
DEVELOPMENT OBJECTIVE 3: Promote Equitable and Environmentally Sustainable Economic Growth
The lack of clear land rights and economic opportunities in rural, conflict-affected areas contribute to the expansion of illicit economies. Hence, eliminating illicit activities – such as coca cultivation, illegal mining, land grabbing, and illegal logging – and associated levels of violence requires generating new livelihood opportunities for the country’s susceptible populations. It also requires making licit economies more competitive and guaranteeing the rule of law, individuals’ physical security, and access to finance. Activities under this DO will, therefore, support and develop licit livelihoods and licit economies, formalize land, and connect isolated conflict zones with licit markets. Replacing illegal economies and livelihoods with viable legal alternatives will address a foundational barrier to Colombia’s transition to self-reliance. The DO will also protect the environment by increasing economic incentives for citizens to manage natural resources and conserve the environment and by promoting environmental markets and eco-friendly businesses.
SPECIAL OBJECTIVE 4: Stability in Areas Impacted by Immigration from Venezuela
The Colombian Government is facing a crisis caused by the influx of Venezuelans into Colombia. Since 2016, over 1.6 million people have fled Venezuela to Colombia,41 with that number conservatively anticipated to reach 2.5 million by 2021.42 Venezuelans have settled throughout the country, including in areas where formerly displaced Colombians are also returning. As a result, these receptor communities are facing unprecedented challenges in socially and economically integrating these migrants and returnees. Moreover, government systems related to health, justice, and education services are becoming overburdened. Some of these burdens, and perceived government “handouts” to migrants, build resentment among certain receptor community members, contributing to increased xenophobia toward migrants. The Special Objective accounts for receptor community needs and perspectives in its programming. If not addressed more strategically, this migrant crisis has the potential to disrupt Colombia’s delicate peace process and ultimately undermine Colombia’s journey to self-reliance.