Martijn Cremers, the Dean of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, along with researchers and students of the Business on the Frontlines MBA program (BOTFL), have visited several locations throughout the country to learn from PASO Colombia’s peacebuilding efforts and help facilitate its growth and impact. The BOTFL program and PASO are both interested in the creation of economic opportunities for ex-combatants and the rural communities through building successful agricultural businesses.
The partnership between PASO Colombia and the University of Notre Dame goes back to June 2019. At the time, a team from BOTFL conducted an evaluation of the impacts of the Rural Alternative School (ERA) of Puerto Guzmán on ex-combatants´ livelihoods and those of the surrounding peasant communities. The partnership now includes an external evaluation of the “Cash for Work” and “Market Making” strategies used in the Contingency Plan to Support Ex-coca grower families in 10 municipalities of the country, assistance in the creation of training materials to support larger scale implementation of those strategies, and an analysis of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programs around the world, including key insights from PASO´s work.
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, both parties drew up an agenda that includes visits to communities where Rural Alternative Schools (ERAs) and the Contingency Plan have been implemented. However, in support of efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 currently being implemented throughout Colombia, and to support the health and safety of the communities, visits to the ERA and Contingency Plan sites have been postponed. Implementation of the partnership between PASO and the University of Notre Dame will resume when the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have been adequately reduced.