WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Government of Colombia is completing an extensive food security and income generation program with the support of the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), Boeing, and other key partners, an initiative that has helped more than 10,000 Afro-Colombian and indigenous families improve the way they plant crops, raise livestock, and produce handcrafts and other products.
A top priority for the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos, IRACA is the largest program ever undertaken in Colombia to provide assistance to isolated ethnic minorities living in rural areas affected by decades of civil conflict. The program, which began in March 2013 and is set to be completed by Colombia’s Department of Social Prosperity (DPS) next month, has already reached more than 311 communities in 22 of Colombia’s 32 departments (provinces), benefitting approximately 50,000 afro-descendants and indigenous persons.
“Helping local residents improve agricultural production and employment opportunities has meant giving so many families the chance to begin a new road toward development after enduring years of hardship and insecurity,” said Soraya Osorio, Country Director for PADF in Colombia. “This program exceeded the targets we originally set thanks to the support of our partners, but especially of the communities who agreed to work with us.”
With Boeing support, IRACA reached 80 impoverished Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities to orient them about the program and how they might participate to develop their entrepreneurial and productive capacities. The Boeing grant focused on some of the neediest and most isolated communities. Through numerous workshops, more than 2,200 low-income participants received hands-on training. The program also improved their leadership skills in identifying new rural business opportunities and developed productive plans for their communities in the Departments of Chocó, Valle de Cauca, Cauca, Putumayo, among others.
Additionally, the Boeing support provided specialized individual and group technical assistance and trainings to 57 participating communities through workshops to increase their food security techniques that expanded local agricultural and poultry production or established rural enterprises for producing handcrafts and other products. As a result, 95 percent of participants reported productivity increases as well as improvements to their quality of life due to improved food security, incomes, and other indicators. Also, 68 percent of participants are now selling or bartering agricultural and poultry products or handcrafts outside of their communities.
This program follows an earlier Government of Colombia initiative carried out with PADF support in 2012 called Ruta de Ingresos y Empresarismo (RIE), or Entrepreneurship Income Path, which also received support from Boeing. RIE, a micro-enterprise program, reached more than 11,000 displaced persons, allowing them to establish micro or community-based enterprises and increased incomes by 53% and employment by 56%. As part of this program, PADF assisted the Colombian government in providing technical assistance, business training, in-kind and cash assistance and social counseling and connected participants with local business associations and banking institutions to obtain seed capital.
PADF is the non-profit foundation of the Organization of American States, established in 1962 to implement integral socio-economic development programs for disadvantaged people, to strengthen civil society and community groups in support of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and to aid victims of natural disasters and humanitarian crises. In 2013, it helped more than 10 million people in 23 countries. Headquartered in Washington DC, PADF has field offices in Haiti, Colombia, Suriname and Honduras, and projects throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. www.padf.org
Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. A top U.S. exporter, the company supports airlines and U.S. and allied government customers in more than 90 countries. Boeing products and tailored services include commercial and military aircraft, satellites, weapons, electronic and defense systems, launch systems, advanced information and communication systems, and performance-based logistics and training. www.boeing.com