Sustainability for us is not a trend or a fashion: it is our reason for being.
Pacifico was created to support an innovative integrated approach to rural development which aims to transform marginalized rural settings emerging from conflict into cohesive collaborative communities. This approach simultaneously addresses the challenges of poverty and violence in many overlapping areas: business partnerships, business development, food security, productivity, infrastructure, trading relationships, and culture of peace.
VallenPaz, a Colombian NGO with more than ten years of successful experience in peacebuilding in southwestern Colombia, runs the program. It consists of high quality social interventions woven into economic empowerment strategies. Some of the strategies are:
- Engaging ethnically diverse people and communities to work together on the achievement of common goals, such as digging ditches for irrigation systems, installing drip irrigation or repairing roads.
- Creating smallholder farmers' associations with the participation of families and communities from diverse ethnic groups.
- Establishing "Centres of Peaceful Coexistence" to promote the peaceful resolution of conflicts through restorative justice, healthy expression of anger, effective parenting and non-punitive discipline, and prevention of peer violence at schools.
- Sending to a given community agents and technicians from a traditionally antagonist ethnic group. For example, sending afro-descendant technicians to indigenous communities or vice versa.
Results speak for themselves
Direct work with more than 10.000 peasant families and positive impacts related to social development, public sector reform, peace and security, inclusive economic growth and environmental sustainability demonstrate that VallenPaz has achieved a deep understanding of the lives of the extremely poor living in low-income fragile or conflict- affected areas of rural Colombia (the choices they face, the constraints they grapple with, and the challenges they meet), and more importantly, that VallenPaz has advanced cost-effective ways to help them help themselves. We just need to scale up action now!