The Rural Alternative School (ERA) at El Tarra, Norte de Santander, is the first one in the country to support a mixed approach to re-incorporation. The approach combines individual productive projects of ex-combatants with collective training activities and collaborative commercial efforts. El Tarra is a municipality known as “The heart of the Catatumbo region”. The region is key for peacebuilding efforts. Heavily affected by armed conflict before and after the 2016 peace agreement with a large presence of illicit crops, it has a geostrategic location on the Colombia-Venezuela border and is very rich in natural resources.
Sixty ex-combatants originally living at the Territorial Training and Reincorporation Space (ETCR) of Caño Indio migrated to El Tarra with the aim of developing their reincorporation process with individual livestock projects. The UN Verification Mission invited PASO Colombia to support these ex-combatants using the experience gathered in other ERAs around the country. PASO adapted the ERA model and is now implementing a new approach to support individual efforts, taking advantage of the benefits that rural collaboration platforms have demonstrated elsewhere.
Twenty-five ex-combatants and three farmers from the region are the initial participants of this ERA. They will receive tailor-designed training for their needs in a central farm, where they’ll learn about food sustainability, pisciculture and livestock breeding. Along with this training, they will establish protein banks (areas sown with legumes and fodder) for cattle feeding. They will also receive support for the natural genetic improvement of dual-purpose cattle in their own farms and an agricultural technician will be offering individualized support for the particular needs of each farm. Collaborative commercialization efforts will be made to build a network of buyers under fair trade conditions.