A new Rural Alternative School (ERA) begins activities in the Mayorquin River Basin, at the Cacao Village, municipality of Buenaventura. Located along Colombia’s Pacific Coast and heavily affected by the armed conflict, the region provides most of the fish consumed throughout the country.
This will be the first ERA focused on artisanal fishing, a traditional activity of the Afro-Colombian communities of the Pacific Coast. Seventy-six members of this community have organized themselves as the fishermen’s association ASOPESARCACAO and have welcomed four ex-combatants that have returned to the area. The first participants of this ERA will be twenty-three members of the association, including the four members in the reincorporation process.
This new ERA will train the participants in good practices of deep-sea fishing, food handling, fish processing and cold chains. It will support the repair of existing ships and the acquisition of fishing equipment. Participants currently operate using rented equipment. To overcome the obstacles faced by artisanal fishing in bringing their catch to market, the ERA will support the development of commercial agreements and fishing contracts, reducing intermediation costs. It will also assist in the process of developing the necessary skills and resources for the community to take advantage of the larger profits produced by selling processed goods, such as fish fillet.
As with the other ERAs located throughout the country, the Buenaventura ERA is a cross-sector collaboration platform. Its partners, besides PASO Colombia, are the National Authority of Aquaculture and Fishing (AUNAP), the World Food Programme, the Government of the Valle del Cauca Departament and the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia.