By Aydin Shahidi email@example.com
One Earth Future’s PASO Colombia program (Paz Sostenible para Colombia, translated as Sustainable Peace for Colombia) is committed to working with local communities to identify and develop economic opportunities, spur job growth, strengthen the social fabric of the country, and encourage communities to be accountable for maintaining long-term stability and peace.
PASO Colombia has developed a comprehensive, community-based approach to peace-building through its Rural Alternative Schools model (ERAs for its acronym in Spanish). At their core, ERAs are local hubs for strengthening communities to successfully reintegrate ex-combatant and promote sustainable peace. By enabling the collaborative space for technical training on agricultural skills, creating access to capital and land, and identifying markets for participants to sell their goods via Co-ops and Collaborative Commercial Partnerships, ERAs provide livelihood opportunities and a sustainable path towards peace and reconciliation in Colombia.
PASO’s ERA model was designed and initially implemented focusing on the social and economic local reincorporation of ex-combatants after the signing of the historic Havana Peace Accord. However, as the model began to show success as a cost-effective local platform for fostering community cohesion, social stability, and economic development, it became apparent that expanded scale was both possible and necessary. In partnership with a growing number of cross-sector allies, this “Phase II” effort is beginning to operate at a greater scale in three ways:
- The types of beneficiaries: in addition to ex-combat- ants and community members, ERAs now include other local actors affected by the presence of armed conflict, including coca-growing farmers, and an ever-growing number of Venezuelan migrants.
- The number of direct beneficiaries.
- Funding sources: Phase II involves not only linking up with UNODC, the Colombian government and other international philanthropies for larger funding projects, but also leveraging the ERAs as an investment platform for a multi-tiered blended finance scheme that seeks to catalyze international impact investment funds and bonds.