The present peacebuilding programme ‘Semillas de Esperanza’ follows on from the first phase, which was successfully implemented in the region from 2014 to 2017. The second phase is once again actively supported and co-funded by ten Swiss relief organisations and NGOs. They include the Switzerland-Colombia working group, COMUNDO, Fastenopfer, HEKS, Peace Brigades International, Peace Watch Switzerland, Swissaid, Terre des Hommes schweiz and Terre des Hommes Suisse. Caritas Switzerland is responsible as the Lead Agency for operative and administrative coordination. The programme is supported and co-funded by the Human Security Division (HSD) of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs as well as by the Swiss embassy in Colombia.
The programme contributes to a just and lasting peace in the Caribbean region and its firm embedding in Columbian society. The aim is to achieve this through influencing the political, economic and social elements that drive the conflict. In practice, the programme continues to support, in its follow-on phase, the two Colombian partner organisations Colemad and SembrandoPaz who are active in seven communities in the Caribbean region and also closely work with ten organisations. The founder members of both organisations, Luz Estella and Ricardo Esquivia, were awarded the Prix Caritas in June 2017 for their work.
Colemad has worked for many years in the Caribbean region to strengthen an advocacy movement of women and political organisations. They elaborate proposals for the solution of land conflicts as a basis for a just and lasting peace in Colombia. All the women who are involved in these organisations actively support the concerns of disadvantaged women, are committed to helping single mothers and ethnic minorities. They take on responsible positions in their communities when they become involved, for example, in campaigning for land rights, gender equality, a constructive conflict transformation, as well as against displacement and sexual violence.
SembrandoPaz works in five communities whose village residents are affected by poverty, poor educational opportunities and structural neglect. Many are traumatised by the war. Participation in political life is low. The municipal and district authorities are corrupt and do little within the scope of their duties to promote the wellbeing of the villagers. SembrandoPaz supports local and regional development in these villages by means of developing community structures and strengthening civil-society organisations which assert the rights of the village residents. With the help of this support, and by building trust between local, regional and national stakeholders, the organisation strengthens the peace process at regional level. The processes are intended to serve as models for later implementation in other villages and regions.
In addition to the activities of the partner organisations, Caritas Switzerland is implementing a joint multitrack component together with the participating organisations and the HSD. This leads to a strengthening of the cooperation between both organisations, promotes their direct interaction with the Swiss embassy in Bogotá, and provides them with knowledge from experts. It gives them the opportunity to voice their concerns and to programmatically influence important players. This can be in the context of public relations work, or by bringing together various stakeholders on specific themes – in Colombia and in Switzerland. The multitrack approach enables the exploitation of synergies resulting from state-diplomatic and civil-society involvement.