USAID FFP is WFP Colombia’s largest donor, contributing vital cash and in-kind contributions to improve the food consumption and dietary diversity of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and returnees, and the most vulnerable Colombians affected by the long-term civil conflict. These funds also help to rebuild the livelihoods of IDPs and returnees, with a focus on resilience, and empower women and ethnic groups.
A USAID/Food for Peace (FFP) monitoring mission visited WFP activities in Colombia to see first-hand how USAID contributions to WFP are supporting vulnerable people affected by the armed conflict and natural disasters. Deborah Hines, WFP Colombia Country Director and Leslie Elliott, WFP Washington Senior Donor Relations Officer joined Bobbi Kraham, Surge Officer, and Michelle Snow, Program and Policy Coordination Officer, and WFP staff in Colombia. The mission traveled to drought-affected indigenous communities in the Department of La Guajira. La Guajira is one of the poorest Departments in Colombia, and is home to a significant portion of the country’s 1.45 million indigenous people.
The Wayuu indigenous people comprise approximately 45 percent of the population of La Guajira, and are particularly vulnerable to food and nutrition insecurity. Climate variability threatens their livelihoods and traditional ways of life. The population suspended planting due to the severe water shortages, and now survive off their animals and basic grains. WFP supports approximately 35,000 Wayuu each year in this part of the country in building resilience in community food security and nutrition.
In areas of La Guajira, where markets are readily available and accessible, vulnerable beneficiaries receive food vouchers to purchase fresh and nutritious foods at local markets. Indigenous families can purchase products from seven food groups, including grains, fats, fruits, vegetables and proteins. Vouchers are valued at approximately $15 per person per family per month. To increase dietary diversity, all voucher programmes in Colombia are conditional on participation in trainings on the importance of balanced, diversified and healthy diets. Vulnerable beneficiaries receive four monthly cycles of food rations under this programme. Vouchers, especially when linked to the purchase of locally grown food, helps to stimulate the local economy, and are in line with government priorities.
Families receive in-kind food assistance where markets are not readily available, like in rural and drought-stricken areas of La Guajira. Beneficiaries participate in trainings sessions on nutrition, health, human rights and how to adapt to climate change. The community also participates in asset-creation activities including growing seedlings, creating home-gardens and designing handcrafts to strengthen their livelihoods.
The USAID/FFP mission also traveled to areas of the department of Nariño, in southern Colombia. In contrast to the dry and drought-stricken La Guajira, mountainous Nariño is green and productive. However, this department has been dramatically impacted by the armed conflict. Nariño has one of the highest concentrations of IDPs in the country.
Armed violence often forces people to flee their homes at a moment’s notice, leaving behind family, assets and livelihoods in search of safety. WFP assists displaced families living in host communities with cash-based transfers supported by USAID/FFP or USAID/FFP in-kind commodities that help people meet their food and nutrition needs.
WFP in Colombia complements government priorities towards the development of efficient, sustainable and scalable food assistance models, with tools such as vouchers, local purchases, and capacity strengthening activities. WFP will increasingly implement successful nutrition-sensitive responses bearing in mind dietary diversity, link of local purchases with social programmes and the integration of social protection actions.
WFP in Colombia is grateful to donors like USAID/FFP, for extending their support to the Colombian people who are most in need. Through the Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO), WFP is assisting approximately 660,000 people affected by conflict over three years. Women and children comprise 60 percent of WFP’s beneficiaries.