Context

The people of Colombia have been exposed to conflict from armed forces, military groups and drug traffickers since the 1960s. This persistent violence has affected over 7 million people in the country, 80 per cent of whom have been displaced as a result. In 2016, the Government of Colombia signed a peace agreement with the country’s main rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in an attempt to bring an end to many years of violence.

Even after the peace agreement, conflict continues in some parts of the country, creating a complex humanitarian situation. Many civilians, including internally displaced people, cannot access basic services such as education and health care. Alongside limited or nonexistent social services, unemployment remains high, especially in rural areas.

The humanitarian situation is further exacerbated by the ongoing conflict in Venezuela, with over one million Venezuelan refugees estimated to have fled to Colombia. This places further strain on the country’s resources and already limited social services.

Bhutan Map

INTERVENTION

The Adolescent Toolkit for Expression and Innovation has been used in Colombia as part of the Adolescent Circles initiative. With hundreds of participants across the country, the circles involve arts, sports and communication activities specifically developed to encourage participants to develop skills, actively share ideas and bring about positive change in their communities.

In each circle, adolescents are guided through activities that help them plan their own interventions in their communities. Participants are also encouraged to start working with other adolescents in their communities to foster an organic expansion of participation.

The Kit will also be incorporated into the volunteer programme known as “Our UNICEF”, which works with adolescents to develop their competencies to engage in their communities, build peace, foster reconciliation, and learn about their rights. Adolescents are encouraged to come up with ideas and activities to transform their communities and create positive change.

Plans are underway to incorporate the Kit into the country’s wider youth participation strategy. For adolescents who have been exposed to violence, as a result of the complex emergency situation they live in, the Kit can offer positive avenues for expression and social cohesion. Active brainstorming across teams is underway to identify entry points in the Country Programme where the toolkit can add value and supplement existing interventions.