The migration of Venezuelans to Colombia poses a great challenge for the economic inclusion of 1.2 million people. It is also an opportunity to boost the rural economy in the Colombia-Venezuela border. To face this reality PASO Colombia, a program of One Earth Future, is developing with the municipality of Saravena a Rural Alternative School (ERA) to promote agricultural projects, generating jobs, producing food and creating profitable commercial products.
The formal agreement between the Municipality of Saravena and PASO Colombia will be signed during the 2019 Concordia Americas Summit, on May 14th, 4PM at the Strategic Dialogue Room.
On its first stage the ERA of Saravena will intervene 103 hectares of land improving the livelihoods of 400 Venezuelan families, 600 families that were victims of the armed conflict, and 40 families of ex-combatants. On a second stage it will intervene 400 hectares benefiting more than 2,400 families in the Colombia-Venezuela border.
The ERAs are productive and educational collaboration hubs developed by PASO Colombia in rural territories affected by armed conflict. The network of partners associated with each ERA provide peasant communities with agricultural training; technical assistance; and access to land, capital, and markets. They also promote Commercial Collaborative Partnerships (CCPs) where communities sign agreements with companies that guarantee the purchase of their production at a fair price for a specific period of time. The participants co-own the productive projects developed in the schools through the cooperatives and associations participating in them. Currently there are ERAs established in 13 municipalities throughout the country.
A recent study conducted by the firm Cifras & Conceptos shows 90% satisfaction among ERA participants. On average, 81 percent of them rate the development of the productive projects within the schools as good or excellent.
The new ERA in Arauca will strengthen and build on the current experience and infrastructure of the Concentración de Desarrollo Rural (CDR), a public technical school with 1,400 students in elementary, middle and high school. The agricultural and livestock projects developed within the ERA will provide training for both children and adults, produce food for the students and families of the school, generate commercial agreements to provide income for these families, and stimulate the economy of the region.
This is a unique opportunity for collaboration between communities of different origins, as well as public, private and international organizations. PASO Colombia hopes to build on the success of this experience a national model to stimulate food production among rural communities, and strengthen commercially viable productive chains, using public agricultural schools as a collaboration platforms.