However, with the Colombians having rejected the peace accord at the polls, it remains to be seen how things will develop. At any rate, after 50 years of war, representatives of the government and of FARC are willing to continue the struggle for peace and to maintain the ceasefire. However, they face colossal challenges.
To enable the peace to succeed, it is imperative that the local population gains secure and fair access to natural resources like land and water. Therefore, SWISSAID helps to support local populations in six Andean villages (municipios) in the Department of Antioquia to assert their rights to water as well as to obtain lasting protection for the springs through its “Common Use of Water” programme. Let’s face it, the situation is critical. Water concessions are promised on a priority basis to gold mine operators, cattle ranchers and the agricultural industry, while the local population has to make do with increasingly less water, which is frequently contaminated to boot.
This prompted SWISSAID to lend its support to the formation of a regional organisation which represents around 4,000 members and which consists of men and women representing 12 grassroots
organisations. The project is coordinated by the Colombian non-governmental organisation Conciudadanía. Last year, the representatives concentrated on collaboration with local politicians in an effort to ensure that the strategic issue of access to water was incorporated into the development
plans for the local communities. The chances are good that the lobbying will bear fruit. The grassroots organisations are currently campaigning for water rights with the regional environmental agency Corantioquia. This will ensure that they can use the springs in future. They have already achieved this with 13 springs, from which 80 families benefit.
Co-funding through a Colombian foundation
The men and women also attend courses where they learn to protect springs, test water quality and maintain the water supply. In addition, they also received the welcome news recently that the Colombian foundation Aurelio Llano Posada is set to contribute 30,000 francs towards the construction of water supply installations, just as it has done in other projects. Good networking with a wide range of agencies, such as in this project, is vital for ensuring that the communities manage to access their rights and remain in their indigenous region.
Code of project: KO 02/15/04
Costs: 170'965 Swiss francs
Duration: 2 Jahre