Increased armed violence, natural disasters and migration flows have led to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in several regions of Colombia, particularly the northeastern border with Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), the southern border with Ecuador, the pacific border with Panama and the North-West. FAO is working to restore and safeguard the agricultural-based livelihoods of vulnerable communities, focusing on resilience, ethnicity and gender. Providing agricultural support is crucial to restore vulnerable people’s access to food and increase their capacities to withstand shocks.

Multiple threats to food security

During 2018, the food security and nutrition situation of vulnerable, rural communities in Colombia has significantly deteriorated, with 4.5 million people severely food insecure. One of the main causes is that despite the signing of the peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (November 2016), violence has continued, with new dynamics of selective violence, threats, massive displacement and confinement linked to the reorganization of criminal bands and power disputes. There are currently a total of 18 million people living in conflict-affected areas and 8 million people displaced.

Natural disasters, environmental pollution due to the effects of resource exploitation and lack of land tenure, and climate variability are also affecting people’s livelihoods. Small-scale farmers are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to their dependency on rainfed agriculture for food production and income generation, as well as their limited capacity to adapt. Extreme weather events such as drought negatively impact agropastoralists’ livelihoods due to the loss of productive assets, severely affecting their food security.

Furthermore, the alarming situation in Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) has triggered the largest migration crisis in recent Latin American history. Of about 3.4 million Venezuelans that recently left the country, Colombia hosts 1.1 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees – the largest number in the region and a significant increase compared with the 39 000 in 2015. These figures are likely to be higher, as most data sources do not account for Venezuelans without regular status.

All these factors have significantly affected agricultural production as well as access and availability of food for communities, thereby undermining their agriculture-based livelihoods. In the immediate aftermath of a displacement, people rely mainly on food distribution and solidarity from local communities. During prolonged displacement, people struggle to find livelihood alternatives, and farmers who cannot access their lands risk missing the planting and harvest seasons. As a result, there has been an increase in the adoption of negative coping mechanisms, such as engaging in illegal crop production and illicit mining.

Restoring agricultural livelihoods

The country has experienced the continued worsening of nutrition indicators that were influenced by the mixed migratory flows from Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) as well as by structural weaknesses in food safety systems at rural level. Children are those most affected by malnutrition due to the lack of a varied and diversified diet. There is thus an immediate need to ensure access to food and restore the agriculture production of vulnerable communities.

Under the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan, FAO seeks USD 10.2 million to assist 58 410 people. FAO is working to restore the agricultural-based livelihoods of vulnerable communities and increase their capacities to access food and dietary diversity. Specific activities will focus the provision of productive assets and strengthening local capacities. FAO and the World Food Programme continue to co-lead the Food Security Cluster to improve coordination and ensure joint actions within the framework of an integrated approach that contribute to the reduction of food security- and nutrition-related risks for vulnerable people.


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