Millions of Colombians are still desperately poor. The Covid-19 crisis had a devastating effect on the Colombian economy, undoing over a decade of gradual progress in reducing poverty.
While Colombia’s poverty rate is troublingly high, poverty is even higher among certain groups and regions. It is estimated that over 80% of Colombia’s millions of displaced people live in poverty. Afro-Colombian and indigenous people, women, people with disabilities and young people who have been in care are also disproportionately likely to be affected by poverty.
The Colombian conflict has led to the displacement of over 8.2 million Colombians within the last 50 years and has claimed the lives of 200,000 people, leaving an unknown number of people ‘disappeared’ (estimates are between 80,000 to 120,000). A peace deal was signed in 2016 to end 52 years of armed conflict between the Colombian government and the country’s largest guerrilla group, the FARC. This presented great opportunities to construct a more peaceful society for all. However, as important as it is, the deal alone has not been able to solve all the problems that Colombia faces. Talks between the Colombian government and the left-wing ELN rebel group have resumed in 2022 but there is not still a ceasefire. Additionally, various illegal armed groups continue to operate in Colombia and many neighbourhoods are controlled by armed groups and gangs, including former paramilitaries. Murder, extortion, sexual violence and other human rights abuses by these groups continue to drive large numbers of people from their homes.
Due to the conflict, the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Colombia has now reached over 8.2 million, second only to Syria.
The effects of all of this on children are multiple and serious.
The children who Children Change Colombia work with live in sprawling urban slums or rural areas where they have limited access to basic services such as water, electricity, health care and education.
Violence and insecurity is pervasive in their neighbourhoods, children are at high risk of recruitment into armed groups, and there are often ‘invisible borders’ controlled by rival gangs, which children can’t cross without risking their lives. Witnessing and experiencing violence of different kinds often leaves children traumatised.
In this environment it is very difficult for children to enjoy a safe and happy childhood free from poverty, violence or exploitation. This is what all of our partners seek to address, so that the children that we work with can properly take advantage of opportunities to build safer lives for themselves, their families, and their communities.
We focus on improving education in rural parts of Colombia where education is levels are much lower than in cities.
Access to education is difficult as children in rural areas have to walk long distances to school every day