Colombia: Paza la Paz - A step towards peace

Education for socially and economically disadvantaged young people in poor quarters in Colombia. With the Horyzon program, YMCA Colombia offers young people a perspective.

The programme is aimed at socially and economically disadvantaged young people in poor quarters in Colombia. It aims to prevent young people from joining or being forcibly recruited by armed groups and promoting their skills to support the peace process instead.

Background Colombia and Programme Environment

For over 50 years Colombia has been suffering from its internal conflict between government forces, paramilitaries, guerrillas and criminal organisations. According to official figures, about 220,000 people were killed. In addition, six million people were forced to flee. The displaced people gather around the big cities in poor areas, where especially the young people lack any perspective. Poverty, a lack of jobs and training places, crime, poor health conditions and exclusion from political processes lead to young people joining armed groups. To break this cycle, YMCA Colombia is active in these slums with its Horyzon programme.

Recent developments in Colombia, the peace process with the FARC and the ongoing peace negotiations with the ELN, represent both an opportunity and an increased need for the Horyzon programme. If the FARC dissolve and do the same for other organisations, an alternative life plan must be available for the majority of its young members. Otherwise, there is a high probability that former guerrillas will form criminal associations on their own, as happened with the dissolution of other paramilitary groups.

Target Groups

Every year, 1,500 young people between the ages of 14 and 28 from the poorest social classes benefit directly from the programme. Of these, approximately 180 are trained annually as youth leaders, who pass on their knowledge to a total of 75 of their own groups. YMCA Colombia works with a network of 75 institutions (NGOs and governmental organisations) active in the fields of peace, participation and income generation. The activities reach 10,000 people a year.

Aims

The programme is aimed at socially and economically disadvantaged young people in poor quarters in Colombia. It is intended to prevent young people from joining armed groups or being forcibly recruited by them. It strengthens their competences so that they can instead promote peace.

Activities & Effects

Peaceful coexistence and conflict resolution

Activities
  • Conducting training courses for peaceful coexistence.
  • Carrying out training as mediators.
  • Form and consolidate 75 youth groups with at least 20 members who meet regularly, create a timetable and organise activities on their own.
Effect
  • The young people act as mediators in conflict situations and offer peaceful solutions in their families and their environment.

Youth organisation and participation in civil society

Activities
  • Conducting training on youth organisation and participation in civil society.
  • Identification of 100 young people who want to get involved in politics.
  • Identification of offices for young people in councils, civil society organisations, etc.
Effect

Young people play an active role in civil society and fully benefit from their civil rights.

Income Acquisition

Activities

Carrying out entrepreneurial training.
Selection and support (including seed capital) of entrepreneurial initiatives by young people or youth groups for implementation based on business plans, market analyses and budgets.

Effect

The young people have developed their entrepreneurial skills.

Institutional strengthening of the partner organisation

Activities
  • Adaptation and optimisation of the measuring system
  • Conducting the pre- and post-studies
  • Continuing education on gender equality with an external consultant for 25 employees of YMCA during 3 days.
Effect

YMCA Colombia strengthens its competence in youth work.

Results (2017)

Program Area “Paza la Paz”

Peaceful coexistence and conflict resolution
  • 1,448 young people from the seven cities of the program completed their training (30 hours) in the field of "peaceful coexistence and conflict resolution". They now know ways to resolve conflicts without violence and act as mediators in dangerous situations.
  • The contents of the module have been adapted and now include training blocks on topics such as post-conflict, peace agreements and forgiveness and reconciliation.
  • 196 young people were trained as youth leaders. Together with their groups in the neighbourhoods, they independently initiated 97 projects and activities in order to sensitise the population and to point out solutions.
  • 6,210 people took part in these activities, which were organised by the young people.
Youth organisation and participation in civil society
  • 1,463 young people completed their training (30 hours) in youth organisation and participation. They now know their rights and duties as well as the democratic mechanisms. They are also trained in teamwork, communication, decision-making, group leadership, etc. These skills enable them to participate actively in civil society and in institutions such as youth or neighbourhood councils.
  • 203 young people (119 of them women) were elected to public bodies such as neighbourhood councils, youth councils, etc. in 2017.
  • The programme was implemented in 67 communities and neighbourhoods.
Income generation
  • 1,448 young people attended training in income generation (20 hours).
  • In addition, numerous young people took part in training courses on specific topics such as financial management, which were conducted by external institutions.
  • 67 income generation projects, such as small grocery stores or a neighbourhood library, were launched. 54 of these small businesses received start-up financing.
Institutional strengthening of the partner organisation
  • The 7 local programme managers and the social workers received further training in gender equality.
  • YMCA Colombia intensified cooperation with other organisations and networks and worked with a total of 117 organisations (including government organisations).

Locations

Activities worldwide

Further information

Flag of Colombia
Facts about the program

Name: Paza la Paz - A step towards peace
Partner organization: Federación Colombiana de ACJs-YMCA
Locations: Armero-Guayabal / Bogotá / Bucaramanga / Cali / Medellín / Pereira / Quindío
Goal: Education for socially and economically disadvantaged young people in
poor quarters of Colombia
Target group: 1,500 young people and young men and women between 14 and 28 years of age
Required funds 2018: CHF 380'000
Duration: 2016-2018, Program Phase V
Responsible: Bruno Essig,bruno.essig at horyzon.ch

Facts about Colombia

Capital: Bogotá, D.C.
Population: 49.1 mill.
Human Development Index: 0.747 (rank 90.)
Life expectancy: 74.6 years
Median age: 30.1 years
Youth unemployment (15-24 years): 18.4%

Source: Human Development Report