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Community / Land projects / 4. Mine Action and Cluster Munitions Programme 2016 -2020

4. Mine Action and Cluster Munitions Programme 2016 -2020

€1266103.93

01/17 - 12/18

Completed

This project is part of

General

Following more than fifty years of conflict between Government forces and Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs), the country has finally reached a historic peace agreement. In this context, Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) becomes central to the implementation of the peace process in order to facilitate improved security conditions, land restitution, IDP return, illicit crop substitution and sustainable rural socioeconomic development. This project has been developped against this background and in line with the Dutch Government policy on Security and Rule of Law (SRoL) in fragile states and its goal to improve human security. Cauca and Valle del Cauca are of particular interest due to their social vulnerability; they are home to the greatest Afro-Colombian and indigenous populations in the country which have been particularly affected over the last 50 years of conflict, suffering from weak land ownership rights, higher than average poverty rates and limited access to socio-economic facilities. Together, the four municipalities contain eight indigenous reservations and as a result, they have been included on the list of 44 municipalities selected for immediate post-conflict rapid response intervention in DAICMA’s (the national HMA authority) Strategic Plan for 2016 - 2021.

Objectives

The project will generate 12,851 beneficiaries by releasing 548km2 of high-impact land, of which 36,000 m2 will be cleared manually. The intervention aims to provide HMA across 80 veredas in four municipalities, in the Cauca and Valle del Cauca departments in Colombia through clearance, survey, Risk Education (RE) and Victim Assistance (VA). ### Update July '17: The demographic and social situation in the departments of Cauca and Valle del Cauca is one of the most diverse in Colombia, and poses specific challenges for HALO and this project. Throughout the region there are large ‘indigenous reserve’ areas, which as autonomous areas are protected under Colombian law. Equally, there are Community Councils (Consejos Comunitarios) which are made up of Afro-Colombian communities, indigenous communities, as well as Peasant Agricultural Reserves (Reservas Campesinas). Each of these communities has certain autonomous powers, individual cultures, and distinct histories of and attitudes towards the Colombian conflict and HALO has had to secure permission to work in these different areas by community leaders. Given these social complexities in HALO’s area of operation in the region, the approach to intervention has been cautious as not to upset the social and cultural balance. Since the beginning of operations in the area, community liaison has been essential to HALO establishing a presence and building trust with the local community, without which it would be impossible to work in the region. HALO is working hard to reinforce its neutrality and provide in depth explanation the work planned in the area. Given the history of fierce conflict and concentration of illicit crops in the region (marijuana and coca plantations), security has also been a crucial factor in the progress of this project. With rumours of newly formed Non-State Armed Groups in the region, looking to exploit drug trafficking routes, continued liaison with communities has been vital to ensure the safety of teams working out in the field.

Target Groups

The main strategic objective of HALO’s proposed project is to protect the civilian population by saving lives and preventing injury from landmines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW). This will create safe conditions that allow 152 outstanding land restitution requests to be processed and 4,945 IDPs to safely return to their homes. Dutch-funded HMA intervention will also facilitate socioeconomic growth and sustainable development by returning rural land to productive use and providing a source of employment to residents from mine-impacted communities. Additionally, the project will support peacebuilding and improve human security at a local level by involving both victims of the conflict and ex-combatants in community reconstruction and reconciliation processes, while also significantly empowering women in traditionally conservative rural areas of Colombia. Landmines and other ERW have posed a threat to local people and blocked vital resources in Cauca and Valle del Cauca for many years. It is vital for communities that they can use their own land without the risk of landmines or other ERW. Demining not only allows local people safe access and use of their land for agriculture, but also opens up the way for development projects, infrastructure and access to public services, all of which help to build local economies. By Colombian law, victims of the conflict cannot knowingly be put in danger, meaning that displaced people cannot return to places where there is a suspicion of landmines. HALO’s work makes possible the return of displaced people, and restitution to those who have lost their land due to the conflict, by confirming the presence or absence of landmines in an area; once an area is reported to be free of the suspicion of landmines, these processes can go ahead. The demographic and social situation in Cauca and Valle del Cauca departments is one of the most diverse in Colombia, and poses specific challenges for HALO and this project. The municipalities of Miranda and Caloto both have large “indigenous reserve” areas, which are protected as autonomous areas by Colombian law. Equally, there are Community Councils (“Consejos Comunitarios”) which are made up of afro-colombian communities, indigenous communities, and palenqueras in the area, as well as Peasant Agricultural Reserves (Reservas Campesinas). Each of these communities has certain autonomous powers, individual cultures, and distinct histories of and attitudes towards the Colombian conflict.

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