Corporación Socioecológica para el Futuro de Bolívar (Ecofuturo), $245,000 over three years; counterpart committed, $109,435.Ecofuturo will work in the municipalities of Bolívar, El Dovio and Versalles, department of Valle del Cauca, to improve land use in 50 private reserves and on farms, offer educational activities on conservation in five rural schools and facilitate collaboration involving community residents and local authorities toward the designation of three sections of public land as protected areas. The project is expected to benefit 385 Colombians directly and another 6,000 indirectly. (CO-531)
Red Departamental de Mujeres Chocoanas (Red Departamental), $190,870 over three years; counterpart committed, $114,632.
Red Departamental will engage its members in a planning process expected to update information on them, their needs and their priorities. It will also offer training in gender and social development leading to certification. The project is expected to benefit 140 women directly and another 1,113 indirectly. (CO-532)
Asociación de Productores de Panela de la Vereda Las Vegas (Asoprovegas), $167,475 over three years; counterpart committed, $114,397.
Asoprovegas will work with its members and two other grassroots organizations in the municipality of Tulua, department of Valle del Cauca, Asociación de Escuelas Agro-ecológicas Campesinas de San Rafael (Aseas) and the Asociación de Agricultores Orgánicos de San Lorenzo (Asoagro), toward better land-use practices on 57 farms, resulting in increased production of sugar cane, a more reliable food supply and greater collaboration among the three organizations. The project is expected to benefit 170 Colombians directly and another 470 indirectly. (CO-533)
Corporación Transparencia por Colombia (Transparencia), $114,184; counterpart committed, $173,242.
With support from RedEAmérica member Fundación Corona and the European Community, Transparencia will expand its program encouraging citizen oversight of the use of government funds for development and services, disseminate the results of its investment and conduct educational activities. (CO-511-A4)
Fundación Para El Etnodesarrollo De los Llanos Orientales de Colombia (ETNOLLANO), $15,050.
ETNOLLANO will collect information in Bogotá and in the department of Vichada, including cartographic data on mining and hydrocarbon activities, and share it with Sikuani, Amorua and Piaroa residents of five autonomous indigenous territories along the lower Orinoco River. (CO-512-A5)
Empresa Cooperativa del Sur del Cauca (COSURCA), $75,570 over six months; counterpart committed, $284,153.
COSURCA will introduce coffee bushes resistant to coffee-rust to replace those damaged by the disease; will train member-farmers in the prevention of crop diseases and the identification of pests proliferating due to climate change; and will incorporate 100 additional farmers into its federation. (CO-513-A5)
Consejo Comunitario de la Comunidad Negra del Río Raposo-Palenque Regional el Congal (CCR), $50,075; counterpart committed, $15,736.
CCR will help 13 communities disseminate their regulations related to self-government and will offer instruction in conservation at the local school and to the environmental committee of Río Raposo. The project will impact 120 Afro-Colombians directly and another 2,800 indirectly. (CO-521-4)
Fundación Sumapaz (Sumapaz) $90,136; counterpart committed, $87,568.
Sumapaz will continue to work with 60 leaders drawn from 150 grassroots groups and representatives of three community-based networks in Comuna 3, a neighborhood in Medellín, toward developing skills in planning, cooperation, conflict resolution and the promotion of human rights. It will also offer residents a program in management and public policy leading to certification. (CO-522-2)
Its great wealth of plant and animal species makes the department of Chocó one of the world’s most biodiverse areas, but its people are among the poorest in Colombia. Their suffering has been compounded by the country’s ongoing internal hostilities, a situation in which women and children have been especially vulnerable.
In 1992, a small group of women from Chocó were invited to participate in meetings held by the Colombian National Women’s Network (Red Nacional de Mujeres). Initial exposure to women’s issues motivated these participants to invite 120 others to discuss the possibility of an organization that would represent women in Chocó and advocate for their rights and opportunities. Four years later, Red Departamental de Mujeres Chocoanas (Red Departamental) was officially founded. Today it counts 52 member grassroots organizations representing indigenous, mestiza and African descendent women from 19 of Chocó’s 31 municipalities.
Among the most significant achievements of Red Departamental is the creation of two training venues, one for programs on leadership and one for programs on policy. To date, almost 2,000 women have acquired the skills necessary to move into leadership positions and to encourage the participation of women in public life. In 2010 Red Departamental’s work was recognized with the Albright Grant from the National Democratic Institute—an honor perhaps validated two years later by the outcome of local elections. Women currently hold 12 percent of all elected positions in the Chocó, up from just 3 percent before the elections held in December 2011.
With growth and success have come challenges. Women’s needs range from food security, for those displaced by the conflict, to broader representation in local government. To address these issues, Red Departamental requires a plan for going forward. It will invest its IAF award in a planning process that allows women in the network to reflect on its strengths and weaknesses and redefine its direction based on a survey that updates information on members and identifies their constituents’ needs and priorities. Through the network’s collaboration with Fundación Universitaria Claretiana on a program on gender and social development leading to certification, activists can acquire the knowledge and skills to take their advocacy to a new level. Working together, Red Departamental’s grassroots members can continue to improve conditions for women in Chocó.
Juanita Roca, IAF representative