Rural Alternative Schools (ERA) | Mutata, Colombia

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The Rural Alternative School of Mutatá supports the New Reincorporation Area (NAR) of San José del León, established in the Abibe Mountain Range in alliance with the Government of Antioquia, the Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition of Antioquia (MANA), the Mutatá City Hall, the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and La Ceiba corporation.

The San José del León NAR was established in 2017 after a group of 45 ex-combatants left the Territorial Training and Reincorporation Space of Tierralta, Córdoba in search of land near their families. With the combined funds of the reincorporated group, they purchased 21 hectares of land in the San José del León hamlet in the municipality of Mutatá. They brought their children, animals and some belongings with them. Together, they made the most of the area’s natural resources. They built a house for each family, a community center and a school. The excitement that was built up around this space (which was being built in the middle of the mountains alongside valuable water resources) inspired local organizations to support the development of their projects. The temporary PASO Colombia-Ceiba Union (via the ERA) supports their projects by providing technical assistance, operational support, agricultural training, and the brokering of commercial alliances.

Nine collective and eight individual fish farms have been built in La Fortuna river, where cachama and tilapia are farmed and sold locally. Animal feed is produced with local resources and crops serve as protein banks, resulting in a healthier, cheaper and environmentally-friendlier product. To ensure food self-sufficiency for the residents, gardens, crops, and sheds for egg-producing hens were also installed. These initiatives, which meet ex-combatant families’ needs, have progressed with the help of peasant families from village hamlets (who also benefit from these projects).

One of the biggest achievements in 2019 was the construction of a tread plate with assistance from Mutatá City Hall. Improving the access route to this area and its neighboring hamlets has facilitated product transportation to local markets and to grow tourism in the area.