Project themes


The Wiwa indigenous population represents one of the four ethnic groups in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in northern Colombia. In this area there are 27 Wiwa communities located in the Resguardo Kogui- Malayo- Arhuaco (territory of 383,877 hectares), while others the communities moved to the department of La Guajira (in the north of the country ) and, in the department of César, representing nearly 14,000 members. According to information from the Wiwa Delegation of the Kogui – Malayo – Arhuaco (DW), the Wiwas in the SNSM are approximately 2,500 people, while the Colombian Ministry of Culture highlights the fact that “the bulk of the population corresponds young people and young adults (79% are under 30), while adults over 60 are just 2%. “Wiwas are located on the south-eastern slope and north of the SNSM, in the Kogui – Malayo – Arhuaco Resguard in collective properties recognized by the Colombian state in its national constitution. Each community has a local order of Mamos and Sagas, entitled to organize and direct the community to collectively maintain the territorial, spiritual and personal order. Through these authorities they have constant relations with the other three indigenous comunites of the Sierra: Kogui, Arhuaco and Kankuamo to coordinate the care of their territory.

The economy is largely agricultural and has been seriously hit by the continuous blockages they have been subjected to, preventing the trade of surplus products and the acquisition of basic products that are not produced in the community.

The peasant community is distributed around the indigenous reserve, in the lower part of the SNSM: they are approximately 3,000 people, especially from the interior of the country (Santander, Boyacá, Tolima and Antioquia). The community is agrocentric and suffers from occupational instability, poverty and poor scholar education. Part of the community is made up of internally displaced people who settled in that territory, driven by violent actions and threats by illegal armed groups.

The Wiwas of the SNSM have suffered in the last 50 years from a growing isolation caused by the disruption or absence of communications and infrastructures, causing displacement and food shortages. The food assistance programs implemented by the Colombian government did not solve the situation, but generated a situation of food dependency and acculturation. Nevertheless, in the last years thanks to the effort of the whole community, the Wiwas began to recover their traditions, language, crafts, culture and intangible traditions.

Part of the peasant community is composed of internally displaced people. Poverty and lack of professional training diminish the possibilities of equity vis-à-vis the rest of society, preventing them from accessing employment opportunities arising from economic growth.

The problems of other indigenous communities reflect the same situation.

The Wiwa community of the SNSM expressed in the following requirements to solve their needs: autonomy in the management of their natural territory and the generation of new occupational opportunities, guaranteeing their sustainability, security and their traditional lifestyles .


The UPD members started their supporting activities for the community in 2012 – before the company was even established – in collaboration with the Faculty of Anthropology of the University of Magdalena, Casa Indígena de Santa Marta and the Wiwa community represented by Ramon Gil.

The general objective of the activities is to promote the recovery of the ancestral traditions and the original territory of the Wiwa community in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. To achieve this, the first phase of activity focused on specific objectives:

1. Elaboration of a socio-economic characterization of the territory to analyse the problems and the needs of the Wiwa community of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta;

2. Design of a strategy for cultural recovery and management of the ancestral territory, with community involvement;

3. Topographic elaboration to facilitate the recognition of the ancestral Wiwa locations in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta;

4. Organization of events and exhibitions to promote social awareness about indigenous issues in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

1. Socio-economic and territorial analysis

In the first phase of the program, the activities were directed towards the community involvement and the knowledge of the territory, in order to be able to analyse the problems and discuss the strategies with the community.

Anthropological and socio-economic studies were undertaken to establish the context in which our support actions will be implemented.

The expansion areas of the Kogui-Malayo Resguardo were the object of massive colonization by settlers from the interior of the country that generated conflict situations between peasants and indigenous communities. At present, there is the risk of land titling for agro-industrial megaprojects, miners, hydrocarbons, energy and pharmaceuticals, which would seriously undermine the cultural prerogatives of indigenous populations and the environmental balance of the SNSM.

The situation of economic underdevelopment present in the territory affects all kinds of people, worsening the relations between peasants and indigenous populations and disrupting the possibilities of dialogue and collaboration that are needed for a peaceful cohabitation in those places.

In this context, the low level of education and professional training of indigenous and peasant communities prevent their access to the economic opportunities that are being developed in the SNSM, excluding these communities from the administration of their territory and preventing the protection of their social and cultural rights. However, the growth of the tourism sector in the SNSM could constitute a resource for these communities, although simultaneously representing a threat to the environment and the cultural identity of the indigenous populations.

2. Strategy elaboration

During the second phase, several meetings and contacts with the Wiwas authorities allowed establishing community priorities and terms of collaboration with the UPD and other institutions involved. In this sense, the Wiwa authorities indicated their priority objective in the recovery of their ancestral territory, with priority in those territories adjacent to their settlements, especially those recognized of high sacred and cultural importance.

In order to acquire the territories, three possible solutions were identified:

1. Application to the Victims and Land Restitution Act for territories where the Wiwa community suffered land depletion during the armed conflict;

2. Creation of income generation strategies to allow the acquisition of ancestral territories: identification of a sustainable community tourism strategy that can guarantee economic income to the community within a framework of cultural and environmental respect for the territory involved;

3. Application to international organizations programs for granting cultural and territorial reintegration funds for indigenous communities .

Regarding the first point, the entity in charge of managing the practices for land restitution is the Land Restitution Unit, belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The restitution process provides for 3 phases: during the first phase, which can last for a maximum of 4 months, data and evidence on violent offense during the conflict period are collected; in the second phase a judicial process for the integral reparation of the victims is elaborated; finally, the trial is established and the reasons and compensations are defined.

The land restitution process so far has not produced positive results for the Wiwa community, mainly due to 2 different problems:

1. The territories that the Wiwa community lost by dispossession during the armed conflict are limited, because the community had already been evicted previously and was returning to their ancestral territories;

2. The high number of cases of land dispossession and the limited professional resources of the state did not yet allow the beginning of studies for the characterization of the territory for the Wiwa community.

The Planning and Development Unit proceeded on its own with the community characterization and made the studies available for the Land Restitution Unit in order to prepare the reports.

Regarding the second point, together with the Faculty of Anthropology of the University of Magdalena and the Wiwa community, the UPD established guidelines for the development of a shared strategy of sustainable tourism.

1: To create new occupational and labor insertion opportunities for indigenous populations and peasant communities, ensuring a gender approach in all phases of project design, organization and management;

2: Promote knowledge of the mechanisms and professional training in the tourism sector to indigenous populations and peasant communities;

3: Involve the other local actors by encouraging the collaboration of different sectors of civil society in Magdalena to value environmental resources, historical and cultural heritage according to a sustainable approach;

4: To implement new forms of sustainable tourism use of the environment that favor at the same time its conservation and security;

5: To develop processes of transmission and replicability of good practices through workshops and citizen participation;

6: To help the recovery of the cultural identity of the Wiwa community and to promote the knowledge of the indigenous culture outside its territory.

Finally, with respect to the third point, the UPD elaborated a report on the possibilities of financing for land reclamation through international support; the studies have been carried out and established collaborations to form the basis of the proposals to be submitted in the future.

3. Topographic Elaboration of the territory

The organization of the Wiwa community established the need to map their territories in order to identify territorial prerogatives in the processes of land restitution, enabling the sustainable planning of the activities that they will decide to establish in their territories.

In this task the Wiwas have being supported by the Amazon Conservation Team, which collaborates with the community to establish the boundaries of the indigenous territory for the territorial extension, and the Planning and Development Unit, which is mapping sites of cultural interest and old trails, especially in the areas of Bonda and in the vicinity of the Wiwa community of Charm – Gotshezhi.

The topographic work – which is also being developed thanks to the cooperation of volunteers from the University of Magdalena’s Anthropology faculty and to international students in their field practice experiences – has allowed us to identify long traditional roads that connect many areas of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, for example from Minca to Valledupar.

4. Promotion of Indigenous issues

Within the awareness-raising framework, the Planning and Development Unit has organized activities at national and international levels.

At the international level, the context of the Wiwa community and its cultural reintegration was discussed at the University of Cagliari (Italy) on 7 July 2016 during a seminar on the international cooperation experiences of the UPD. In that event, the director Matteo Bellinzas explained the context of the post-conflict and development activities, while the participation of Alexandra D’Angelo as an anthropologist of the UPD facilitated the understanding of indigenous prerogatives in the management of the ancestral territory and its culture .

Fieldwork for the characterization of the Wiwa community was the subject of a photographic exhibition by Alexandra D’Angelo, which was exhibited in Lombardy and Sardegna (Italy), contributing to the promotion of indigenous themes abroad.

Support for the armed conflict victims

The UPD mission is to promote the rights and basic human conditions reintegration  for a dignified life to the disadvantaged communities and victims of the conflict in Colombia. The UPD supports the Peace program through dialogue and empowerment of actors, creation of international support networks and raising awareness.

General Objective: reintegration of rights and basic human conditions   for a decent life to the communities victims of the conflict in the Colombian Caribbean

Specific Objectives

– Support to the victims of the conflict in the Magdalena through training for their empowerment

– Support for the Transitional Peace program through dialogue and the empowerment of its actors

– Creation of networks for the development of community support strategies

– Support to the NGOs that stood out to support the victims of the conflict in the Colombian Caribbean


Support to the NGOs that stood out to support the victims of the conflict in the Colombian Caribbean

The Planning and Development Unit supports NGOs and community organizations in their efforts to achieve equitable and fair development, with a focus on reconciliation and respect for human rights. To achieve its mission, the UPD identified the most distinguished NGOs in the fight for human rights in the territories in which they work, to support them in their activities.

Among the communities and NGOs we support:

Wiwa of Gotzheyi, Kemakúmake y Wímake Communities

These three populations are linked historically, territorially and politically. Historically, the role of the leader and traditional authority is emphasized: Ramón Gil Barros, a spiritual leader known as one of the most representative and charismatic leaders in the Serrano Indigenous world, was the first Governor of the newly formed Gonawindúa Tayrona Organization in 1987 and is currently the legal representative of the Wiwa Delegation. Under his leadership, the migration of hundreds of Wiwa del Cesar families to the northern side of the Sierra was forged through the Magdalena department between the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, allowing the formation of several populations: Bunkuanguega (basin river Don Diego), Wímake, Kalabangaga, Kemakúmake and Gotzheyi (the latter four in the Guachaca river basin). These migratory currents are based on a narrative of interethnic relationship and order on the territoriality of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta.

As a population center of the Guachaca basin, Kemakumake has 75 traditional houses, two unguma (ritual and political decision spaces) and two ushui (ritual center for women or wives of mamos, sagas). It is followed by Wimake with 26 traditional houses, a house of material (brick and zinc roof) two unguma and two ushui. Gotzheyi has 20 traditional houses, 8 houses of material, two unguma and two ushui. Regarding education highlights Gotzheyi, which has the Ethnoeducatica District Institution Zalemakú Sertuga, where they dictate degrees from preschool to basic secondary (baccalaureate). This institution has preschools and elementary schools in Wimake and Kemakumake. Kemakumake and Gotzheyi have health posts, while Wimake does not have its health care service.

Gotzheyi and Kemakumake are within the Guamaka political jurisdiction; while Wimake de La Tagua is within the municipal district of Santa Marta, Magdalena.

These three populations have faced the armed conflict in all its characteristics, since they began to conform until the XXI century, where paramilitary groups consolidate their presence in this area of the SNSM.

Foundation for Community Human Development (FUNDEHUMAC)

Founded in 2000, its mission is to educate, promote and provide support to the human being specifically in areas violated by socio-cultural, environmental and political factors, helping social reintegration. FUNDEHUMAC in these years has guaranteed to the communities in Magdalena a personalized, integral and continuous attention, without any discrimination, facilitating the access to the services they require, always granting great value and respect to human dignity.

Among the social services and community work, FUNDEHUMAC provides:

– Care services for people in training and socio-labor insertion;

– Child and family care services: Prevention, diagnosis and treatment for child protection and family support;

– Women’s care services: Information and psycho-social care for women; emergency social care for women victims of domestic violence;

– Training and socio-labor insertion: association of affected people and familiar sensitized groups;

– Reception and social care services for displaced persons and refugees;

– Lectures and workshops that allow small entrepreneurs to form, in terms of labor and social skills;

– Empowerment of its collaborators to better off the performance of their activities;

– Guidance and accompaniment service for those who want to be entrepreneurs;

– Play-pedagogical workshops: strategies to facilitate the way of transmitting messages, by playing manual games,recreational and pedagogical activities;

– Youth meetings: it promotes a climate of group construction for young peace builders in each region identified in order to work around initiatives of Peace and Reconciliation.


Redepaz is the National Network of Citizen Initiatives for Peace that articulates the experiences and practices that multiple social agents develop in the local, interlocal, regional and national dimensions. The mission of Redepaz is to expand and consolidate the social movement for Peace as an initiative of citizen power, with political, cultural and ethical sense, for the refoundation of Colombia. Under the principle of a civic ethic of respect for life and the peaceful treatment of conflicts, Redepaz is committed to building social and economic democracy that allows access to justice without violence.

Redepaz articulates processes such as the National Movement of Women Builders of Peace, the Movement of Girls and Children for Peace, the Youth Network for Disarmament, the National Coordination of Local Constituent Assemblies, the Mothers for Life Movement, citizen watchdogs to the integral reparation process, among others.

Since its inception, Redepaz has promoted in all its spaces the recognition and respect of women and has promoted the gender perspective in all its processes and projects, as inclusive and horizontal spaces. In recent years, Redepaz has assumed the task of strengthening and building a work area called Women and Gender, with the aim of making the commitment and tenacity of Colombian women to build Peace even more visible, recognizing the gender perspective in inclusive and horizontal spaces, and to ensure their empowerment as equal political actors, by promoting and enhancing gender-based advocacy in local, regional and national public policies and by promoting Security Council resolution 1325 the UN – Women, Peace and Security.

Support to the victims of the conflict in the Magdalena by means of training for their empowerment.

Within the Peace and Human Rights program, the UPD has promoted the training of officials and volunteers from different organizations working in this sector.

The training of the actors focuses on strengthening the necessary skills for the preparation of studies and presentation of project proposals. The analytical capacities strengthening is essential to evaluate the development potential of the analyzed communities, to understand their problems and to identify the best development program that can benefit the community. In this way thr development can be achieved starting from a bottom-up approach, analyzing the problems of the communities and generating an autonomous process of identification and solution of the problems.

The NGOs and community organizations training is necessary for a proficous collaboration in international projects, where the requirements in terms of project management and monitoring and evaluation are very rigid.

As part of the Training for Development program, in 2016 UPD provided free training for 9 students of the University of Magdalena’s anthropology faculty and 11 officials from:

Asociación de Empesarios de Magdalena, Fundación Ecologa, Fundación Pro-Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, SENA, Casa Indegena Santa Marta, Fundación Raices Italo-Colombianas, FUNDEHUMAC.

Support for the Transitional Peace Program through dialogue and the empowerment of its actors

The Fondo de Justicia Transicional is a program to promote coexistence, a joint effort between Colombian institutions and international cooperation actors to promote processes of truth, justice, reparation and reconciliation. For this purpose the program has been promoting a process of territorial strengthening for the organization of victims. For the Department of Magdalena, the Fundehumac, Mothers for Life and the Kemakumake Wiwa community and the Planning and Development Unit work together in this process with the international community partners.

The Transitional Justice Fund has different approaches: it focuses on victims and their rights (truth, justice, reparation, guarantees of non-repetition), a focus on strengthening national and territorial capacities, unlearning violence and promoting change in cultural rights for the demobilized population and society in general, and reintegration and reconciliation with a community perspective .

General Objective

Promote national and territorial capacities for institutional strengthening, peacebuilding and the promotion of coexistence and reconciliation, with emphasis on the justice system, respect for human rights and the rights of victims

Specific Objectives

Strengthen national and territorial capacities to build peaceful coexistence based on the recognition of human rights, rights restoration for the victims and promotion of the social, economic and cultural reintegration of the demobilized population with a community and differential approach. With an emphasis on transitional justice mechanisms, it seeks to strengthen the Colombian justice system so that it realizes the rights to truth, justice and reparation of victims and contributes to the construction of peace and reconciliation in Colombia

Thematic lines

– Strengthening of victim organizations

– Strengthening social and institutional capacities and knowledge management

– Recovery of Historical Memory

– Access to Justice

– Communication and visibility of victims’ rights

– Inclusion, reintegration and strengthening of the social sphere in contexts of conflict, transition or post-conflict

Activity implementation

A working space has been promoted with victims of violence to prepare a document of proposals from victim organizations and / or accompanying victims to advance territorial peace building processes.

The topics discussed were the 8 thematic axes of Law 1448

Forced disappearance

Results with the institutions: Mobile brigades to make declarations of missing persons;

Contributions: Accompaniment to the victims in the established routes, visualization of cases in municipalities;

Protection, self-protection

Workshops and trainings of Fundehumac, REDEPAZ, UNDP.

Sexual violence in armed conflict

Workshops and trainings of Fundehumac, REDEPAZ, UNDP.

Project management and execution

Manage: An agricultural farm, creation of a psychosocial center for victims with suitable officials, productive yards, pig farms, productive projects.

Land and territories

Socialization activities of the existence of the land restitution office for declarations and registration to the land restitution process


Workshops and trainings of Fundehumac, REDEPAZ, UNDP.

Citizen Veedurias

Training on citizens’ rights

Forced displacement

Results: Humanitarian aid, income management, entrepreneurship, business strengthening and housing subsidy, training of victims in different areas;

Contributions: conversion of actors into leaders, multipliers and advisers in the processes of forced displacement, giving support to relatives (psychological attention)

Since 2009, we have been working on the follow-up of the displaced victims and from 2011, with the victims of violence. Since this date six tri-partite meetings have been held among victims, indigenous communities, institutions and international entities. Joint agreements have also been made for work on behalf of victims of violence in the territories of Santa Marta, Cienaga, Aracataca, Fundación and Zona Bananera.

Networking for the development of community support strategies

The Planning and Development Unit supports reconciliation and compensation strategies developed within the peace process, and works to raise awareness and expand institutional support to established activities. To achieve a broader convergence of interests for the implementation of shared strategies, the UPD is related to other institutions present in the territory.

In this context, the UPD supports the activities of the Victims Unit in its work with NGOs in Magdalena. The Victims Unit has as strategic approach to bring the State closer to the victims through efficient coordination and transformative actions that promote the effective participation of the victims in their reparation process.

The National Learning System (SENA) offers free training to millions of Colombians who benefit from technical, technological and complementary programs focused on economic, technological and social development. SENA is a fundamental institution for the technical training of communities affected by the conflict, especially in rural areas.

The Association of Employers of the Magdalena (AEM) is an initiative of the private productive sector, which seeks to join efforts among the main 45 economic groups in the region, for the development of the territory of Magdalena and the District of Santa Marta. The activities of the AEM are focused on promoting greater competitiveness of the departmental economic system, enhancing human capital and generating new economic opportunities in the territory.


The UPD Work Plan in the environmental sector for 2017 sets the general objective of recovering and safeguarding areas of high biodiversity value, focusing on the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

The territory of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta covers a fundamental importance for the whole country, being a protected area and recognized by Unesco as a natural heritage, a tourist destination of continuous growth and at the same time place in danger of reduction of its biodiversity and with historical security problems due to the presence of illegal armed groups. It is important to note that the region has 5 conservation units of national importance, out of 10 in the Caribbean region:

1. Natural Sierra Nevada National Park of Santa Marta

2. Tayrona National Natural Park

3. Sanctuary of Fauna and Flora Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta

4. Sanctuary of Fauna and Flora the Flamencos

5. Via Parque Isla de Salamanca

To achieve the objective, the UPD decided to start the activities of: (i) Identification of the context and evaluation of the environmental support network for the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, (ii) Identification of high impact actions for environmental sustainability in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and (iii) Identification of the modalities of Empowerment of local actors and NGOs.

Under these premises, it was identified the urgency to intervene to favor the environmental reintegration of the wetland of the Cienaga Grande of Santa Marta, due to its importance in the field of biodiversity and because of the strong deterioration of its natural conditions.

Social context of the ecoregion Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta

Within the ecoregion system there are nine municipalities, with populations ranging from 87,355 of Ciénaga and 4,219 from the municipality of Zona Bananera.

In general, the economy of the ecoregion is characterized by the development of basic activities in the primary sector, such as fisheries, agriculture, extensive livestock and agribusiness.

The Great Ciénaga ecoregion of Santa Marta is one of the most depressed areas of the Department of Magdalena. The municipalities that comprise it, present indicators of population with Basic Unsatisfied Needs (NBI) between 43.5% and 67.27%.

Among the public services, drinking water is a critical: the coverage of the aqueduct ranges from 50.8% to 86.3%, but water caption is superficial, supplying the vast majority of the Magdalena River without any treatment for human consumption.

The Ecoregion of the Cienaga Grande of Santa Marta comprises populations in conditions of extreme poverty and vulnerability, which suffer the absence or deficient presence of the State. These communities are constantly excluded, so they do not have effective participation mechanisms that allow them to be involved in decision-making related to the environmental management of the wetland.

In the coastal towns and those of palafitos (Nueva Venecia, Buenavista and Bocas de Aracataca) of the jurisdiction of the municipalities of Pueblo Viejo and Sitio Nuevo the houses do not have service of water and sewage, and only some of them have electicity. Because of this, communities lack the technical service of disposal and solid treatment, liquid and excreta residues: the majority of wastes are thrown directly to the marshes, increasing their pollution levels. Only in Buenavista garbage collection is available. These populations are those that more pressure exert in the production of waste that go directly to the lagoon system, since together they produce 975 tons of solid waste annually.

The fundamental problem seems to ensure the maintenance of the ecological characteristics of the ecosystem, in a context of sustainable development, in a situation of administrative and financial insufficiency for the management and recovery of that ecosystem.

Environmental Context of the Cienaga Grande of Santa Marta

In addition to being a wetland of international importance with the declaration of the Ramsar area, the Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta has other declarations that reaffirm its ecological importance: Sanctuary of Fauna and Flora of the Cienaga Grande of Santa Marta (declared in 1977); Exclusive Reservation Zone Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta (1978); Declaration of UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta (2000).

A report from the Universidad del Norte, University of Florida and the Interamerican Association for the Defense of the Environment (AIDA) shows a significant deterioration of its ecological conditions due to different anthropogenic causes. The main problematic issue was the construction of the road infrastructure for the connection between Barranquilla and Santa Marta, which had the effect of obstructing the connection between the lagoon and the sea, reducing the oxygen supply and causing a strong decrease of the mangrove forests , which are now recovering. Salinity is one of the main causes of mangrove mortality and dryness of soils, caused by irregular precipitation and low flows – a result of the sedimentation of the canals that supply fresh water from the Magdalena River. Second, the logging and burning of mangroves, although on a small scale, affects the ecosystem.

The main degradation factors of the ecosystem derive from the agricultural activity that unfolds around the Cienaga, such as the deposits and waste of agrochemical residues and the clogging of fresh water sources for irrigation. Irrigation required by agro-industrial crops is often the cause of conflict, including armed conflict, with communities. The lack of control has led to the irregular appropriation of water sources by diversion and plugging of pipes for irrigation in an inappropriate manner. Furthermore, the lack of aqueduct, sewerage and a basic sanitation system directly affects the swamp area, receiving high amounts of waste.

Many of the municipalities located in the ecoregion depend on artisanal fishing to survive, in other words, their daily livelihood depends on the environmental conditions in which the wetland is located. Poverty, however, poses a threat to the ecosystem, as the intensive exploitation of resources resulting from the progressive increase of people dependent on fishing contributes to the loss of biodiversity.


1. Context identification and evaluation of the environmental support network for the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta.

The UPD started with data collection and the development of contextual analysis to identify the major environmental problems of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, taking into account: (i) the strategic importance in terms of biodiversity, (ii) the relevance of environmental threats and hazards; (iii) the degree of political and social attention to the problems identified; and (iv) the degree of feasibility and the potential positive impact of solving the identified problems.

The activity allowed to identify in the wetland of the Great Cienaga of Santa Marta the territory more committed and with urgent needs of environmental reintegración.

2. Identification of high-impact actions for environmental sustainability in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

The analysis elaborated in the first activity allowed to establish the main pollution and environmental degradation factors , allowing to concentrate the strategic studies on the following problems:

1. Waste collection and sewage collection systems, especially for coastal and palafitic communities;

2. The dumping of pesticides and fertilizers resulting from agro-industrial activities;

3. Loss of biodiversity due to over-exploitation of the fisheries sector.

The meetings with the communities began in Palmira, in the municipality of Pueblo Viejo, focusing on awareness about the waste collection system.

3. Identification of the empowerment modalities for local actors and NGOs.

Within the empowerment of development actors and local NGOs framework, it was established for 2017 to give priority to the territory of the Cienaga Grande of Santa Marta within the project practices and the workshops of project design in the training courses. This will allow the involvement of professionals and development actors active in this territorial context, allowing to (i) improve the local communities’ capacity in the analysis and elaboration of projects and (ii) establishing shared strategies during project preparation workshops .

Development training program

Within the framework for the empowerment of development actors, the UPD shares available free places in its courses and trainings. Free places are available for volunteers and staff members of organizations whose work has shown the need for professionalism in the areas of development planning, project design, project management, monitoring and evaluation.

The training of the stakeholders focuses on strengthening the skills necessary for the preparation of studies and presentation of project proposals. The strengthening of analytical capacities is essential to evaluate the development potential of the communities analysed, to understand their problems and to identify the best development program that can benefit the community. In this way the development can be achieved with a bottom-up approach, analyzing the problems of the communities and generating an autonomous process of identification and solution of the problems.

The training of NGOs and community organizations is necessary for a proficous collaboration in international projects, where the requirements in terms of project management and monitoring and evaluation are very rigid.

As part of the Training for Development program, in 2016 UPD provided free training for 9 students of the University of Magdalena’s anthropology faculty and 11 officials from:

Association of Entrepreneurs of Magdalena, Ecologa Foundation, Pro-Sierra Nevada Foundation of Santa Marta, SENA, Casa Indegena Santa Marta, Raices Italo-Colombianas Foundation, FUNDEHUMAC.

Final Evaluation Introductory Course in Community Development Planning and Management

3 December 2015 – 27 January 2016, Universidad del Magdalena

The first introductory course in Project Management and Community Development sought to strengthen students’ skills in project identification, formulation, implementation and evaluation.

The first module (THE STRUCTURE OF THE PROJECT AND ITS LOGIC) sought to strengthen the students’ vision towards the understanding of sustainable development policies, which is the logic that must be managed to understand the project impact and the ways to finance it.

The second module (METHODOLOGIES AND TOOLS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROJECT) focused its attention on the project management of the information and the analysis necessary to elaborate a project proposal. This part of the course explained the importance of contact and involvement with stakeholders and beneficiaries of the project.

The third module (PROJECT EVALUATION AND MANAGEMENT) offered skills to manage a development project (relations with the consortium, stakeholders and funding institutions). In this part of the course, the students understood how to justify the objectives that were established for the project. The students understood the importance of establishing strategies matching the beneficiaries aims and the importance of finding shared motivations with stakeholders.

The practical module, finally, aimed at training the implementation of the concepts and methodologies of analysis and involvement of stakeholders and beneficiaries. At the field trip to the indigenous settlement of El Encanto students were grouped into different teams to collect different information to understand the contextual environment in which the project has to be organized. The groups, led by an expert, tried to identify the motivations, problems and objectives of different categories of beneficiaries and stakeholders:

The “mamo” and the authorities

Indigenous women

Stakeholders (peasants living around the indigenous settlement)

A team of students took care of coordinating the activities and controlling the other groups.

The course ended by delivering an elaboration made by the students, based on the field work and search and management of information conducted in the laboratories, to explain, justify or motivate a part of the project.