Americas / Colombia

Strengthening the resilience of rural and indigenous people in Colombia


People who benefit from our programs have had their livelihoods severely affected from armed conflict


Wayu and afro-Colombian farmers will receive sustainable and environmentally friendly farming training, and will teach other farmers in the communities

Malteser International Americas is educating, empowering and strengthening the resilience of vulnerable Afro-Colombian communities and the indigenous Wayu people of La Guajira and Magdalena in Colombia. In this region, generations of families and entire communities have survived on subsistence farming, depending heavily on Mother Earth, especially soil and water of the Don Diego and Tapia rivers.

However, climate change and its effects have had detrimental effects on their livelihood and are putting those resources more and more at risk. The region experienced the harshest drought in 20 years and 4,000 people have lost their livelihood, and they lack financial means, materials and knowledge to improve their situation.

Our new program — “Strengthening Resilience of Colombian Communities” — helps to protect the region’s natural resources, despite the recent climate changes, and ensure that these communities can build sustainable futures through improved farming techniques, health and nutrition.

Part of the project will build on traditional farming practices, introducing farmers to alternative ways of providing for themselves and the community, such as beekeeping. The initial group of 100 farmers will be the catalysts for skills-building throughout their communities, educating and motivating more farmers to practice sustainable and environmentally-friendly farming. The efforts will result in more than 2,000 people gaining skills, understanding the importance of the diversity in crops, and eating a balanced diet.

In this area, access to health care is also inadequate, and there is a lack of knowledge about hygiene, nutrition and health. To achieve a healthier community, our program also focuses on individual and community health. Women, and mothers will be taught how to eat well and prepare food safely during pregnancy, childhood and youth. A community wash station will also be built to avoid contamination of water, which will maintain the health of the entire community by avoiding water-borne diseases and epidemics that could threaten families.

Environmental health is also of great importance because of the direct impact it has on the indigenous and rural communities that depend on the earth for their livelihood.  The project also promotes active conservation and recuperation of almost 250 acres of degraded ecosystem. Two community-based systems were established to respond in case of natural disasters such as flooding, forest fires and landslides.

Malteser International Americas is working with our partners on the ground, ABIUDEA (Association of Biologists of the Universidad de Atlántico) and PDPC (Programa de Desarrollo y Paz del César/Development and Peace Program of César).


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