Despite the Government of Colombia’s establishment of a legal framework to protect the rights of its Afro-Colombian and indigenous populations, ethnic minority populations continue to be among the most marginalized groups in the country. They suffer from exploitation, inequality, poverty, discrimination, social and economic insecurity, and violence. It is essential that national and local governments recognize all ethnic minority populations and have the capacity to successfully implement policies that protect the rights of such populations and support their participation in society and the economy.

Tetra Tech is supporting the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Program (ACIP) to increase the socio-economic and political inclusion of Afro-Colombian and indigenous populations in three geographic regions—Pacific, Caribbean, and Central. These communities face ineffective state resource investment in and public policy implementation for ethnic minorities; weak civil society organizations; limited access to employment and income-generation opportunities; and lack of awareness about diversity, ethnic rights, and cultural heritage.

I had the privilege of representing the ACDI/VOCA-Tetra Tech team at an official event in Cartagena this past Sunday in which Presidents Santos and Obama handed over recently-formalized collective land titles to the leaders of two Afro-Colombian communities—this represented the first time that collective land titles have been formalized in the coastal Caribbean region. Tetra Tech’s support through the USAID Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Program (ACIP) was instrumental to making this landmark accomplishment possible. Approximately 3,921 hectares of land is now legally and collectively held by the 14,679 beneficiaries in these two communities, enabling them to exercise their rights and authorities as the legal owners of this land.

Glenn Blumhorst, ACDI/VOCA

Tetra Tech is conducting activities under four main objectives:

  • Promote more effective advocacy efforts by the civil society and the public sector to implement existing policies through active coalitions established at the local and national levels
  • Increase employment of Afro-Colombians and indigenous persons in targeted economic sectors in select urban areas
  • Improve governance in targeted rural ethnic territories
  • Increase respect for cultural diversity and identity

To achieve these objectives, we are:

  • Strengthening the national and regional Afro-Colombian and indigenous organizations to provide them with the skills, knowledge, and confidence needed to participate in local-, regional-, and national-level policy making and legislation
  • Providing support to national entities to effectively implement policies for ethnic communities

For Afro-Colombians and indigenous groups, the program is supporting implementation of priority policies:

  • Prior Consultation Law (Consulta Previa)
  • Reparation to Victims law
  • Equal Opportunities Law
  • Inclusion of Afro-Colombian and indigenous women in Colombian gender policies
  • Improvement of the quality of information and monitoring on policy implementation
  • Improvement of coordination through the organization of multi-stakeholder events in collaboration with university partners