Colombia faces many challenges such as poverty and high rates of inequality, natural disasters and a recent history of extreme levels of violent internal conflict. Despite numerous attempts by the government to negotiate peace agreements, 40 million people are affected by a brutal civil war involving armed groups, the army, national police, paramilitary organizations and drug traffickers. Poverty increased more than eight percent over the last three years, with 37 per cent of people living in poverty (2010) and 16 per cent earn less than two dollars a day. It is estimated that 40 per cent of Colombia's poor are not covered by the health care system.

Violence Prevention

The Canadian Red Cross is supporting the Colombian Red Cross to reduce and prevent violence in communities. Ten Steps to Creating Safe Environments is a methodology developed by the Canadian Red Cross and is used to implement effective violence prevention programming. This project helps integrate policies and management in day to day operations of the Red Cross for the prevention of violence against children. It is also a first step toward starting effective community-based programs.

The Colombian Red Cross designed a project to take messages of non-violence to all its 32 branches and to study the prevalence of violence between staff and volunteers within the Colombian Red Cross. The project raised awareness about violence prevention through trainings with branches and surveyed over 1,500 staff and volunteers about their experiences with violence.

300 adults and 70 children received direct training on non-violence, 650 people received key violence prevention messages through pamphlets, activities and posters. It is estimated that over 2500 people will benefit from the project.