Rural Alternative Schools (ERA) | Carmen del Darién, Colombia

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The Rural Alternative School (ERA) of Carmen del Darién, located in the department of Chocó, is a collaborative space for the excombatant cooperative COOVIDECUJI, the women’s association ASOMUJIGUA, and the High Community Council of the Jiguamiandó river basin. The collective work developed in this Afro-Colombian and indigenous territory allowed to develop the Verde Jigua and Rojo Arizá projects, which rely on medicinal plants to improve health care, generate income, and coordinate the community for the protection of local resources through sustainable productive projects.

The ERA of Carmen del Darién reflects the community’s interest in working with medicinal plants as part of a collective process to repair the effects of the protracted armed conflict. Therefore, the ERA focuses on training women for medicinal product preparation, strengthening home orchards to provide food security for families, and consolidating marketing channels. In the long term, the project seeks to establish a natural medicine laboratory in the middle of the Pacific rainforest, which would significantly benefit 400 families in the Jiguamiandó river basin and offer a platform to protect valuable natural resources in the territory.

The ERA of Carmen del Darién is supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Agency for Reincorporation and Normalization (ARN), the National Learning Service (SENA), the ECOMÚN cooperative, the University Bank of Extension Programs and Projects (BUPPE) of the Antioquia University, and Quántica.