International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) initiatives working to overcome poverty and improve food security in the Colombian countryside can make a positive contribution to government efforts to tackle some of the most neglected problems facing this South American country.
Wearing a dusty hat and a smile that lights up his face, the septuagenarian José Alicapa does not shrink from the overwhelming bustle of the Colombian capital, which he reached after a 13-hour bus drive from the western province in Caldas.
The government of this historic walled city, a bastion of tourism on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, is widening beaches and building dual carriageways on its north side to protect against the ever-worsening impacts of climate change.
An ambitious programme of infrastructure works to overcome the risks of climate change in Cartagena de Indias, a city on the Caribbean coast in northern Colombia, has generated controversy, with authorities predicting benefits while parts of the affected population voice criticisms.
Scepticism, fear of expressing an opinion and a dash of hope make up the cocktail of responses from Colombians asked about the possibility of the decades-old civil war finally coming to an end as a result of the peace talks between the government and the FARC guerrillas, which began Monday in Havana.
Nobody will ever know if Jhon Jairo Echenique decided to take his own life out of remorse, fear or mental illness. But the suicide followed his arrest for the stabbing and burning with acid of his 19-year-old former girlfriend Angélica Gutiérrez.
The entry into force of Colombia’s free trade agreement with the United States was met by student protests and opposition from a segment of the business community, small farmers, and trade unionists.
Analysts in Colombia have varied in their degree of optimism, but they generally agree that the release of the last 10 police and military hostages held by the FARC guerrillas, some since 1998, was a peace signal.
Cleaning up a stream that used to be a garbage dump and restocking it with fish, or helping demobilised far-right paramilitaries reintegrate into society by returning to school, are some of the early outcomes of a project involving community radio stations in a remote area of northwest Colombia.
"In the Andes, and all over the world, mining on mountains should be banned. Distinguished scientists and papers in the most prestigious journals are saying this," a regional planning expert in Colombia told IPS.
The human rights situation in Colombia is extremely serious, and getting worse, reported an International Verification Mission made up of 40 delegates from 15 countries who visited the country this week.
The "occupation" of Bogotá by students, backed by parents and professors as well as social and cultural sectors, is continuing even after the Colombian government offered to withdraw its controversial bill to reform education if the protests were called off.
"Political power will be fought for metre by metre in the Oct. 30 local and regional elections in Colombia, because this is a country imbued with violence, with different armies disputing different parts of the territory," said Alejandra Barrios, director of the election observation mission (MOE).
In one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Colombian capital, 26-year-old Sandra Sánchez has created an oasis that offers meals, recreational opportunities, company and much more to hundreds of children and elderly people, in an example of solidarity and leadership that has transcended borders.
The more than 1.2 million microenterprises operating in Colombia are responsible for around 50 percent of all employment. And many of these small businesses owe their existence to the microfinance system, according to a report by Visión Económica, a local business research group.