The following report summarizes the key findings of the post-clearance assessment of the municipalities of Nariño and La Unión in the department of Antioquia, Colombia conducted by The HALO Trust in partnership with Professors Raúl Castro Rodríguez and Jorge A. Rueda, of the Universidad de los Andes Economics Department, Bogotá between 2019 and 2020.
Thanks to $161,300 of funding provided by The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S.
State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA), HALO was able to return to the first municipalities declared as landmine free by a civilian organization in Colombia, to conduct an in-depth investigation into the causal link between HALO’s humanitarian mine clearance activities, supported by The Department of State (DOS) from 2013 to 2016, and socio-economic development in both municipalities.
In accordance with the grant award, the following objectives were established;
• Establishment of a reconstructed baseline through a desk-based study;
• Post-intervention survey conducted in 75 veredas (48 in Nariño and 27 in La Unión);
• At least 600 household interviews conducted of direct and indirect beneficiaries of clearance, as well as households previously surveyed during non-technical survey (NTS);
• A detailed report of findings to be delivered to the DOS and the national mine action authority,
AICMA,1 upon completion of the project;
• A presentation workshop of the project findings is to be delivered in Colombia for key stakeholders (national and local authorities, other mine action operators, and the U.S. Embassy).
In addition to the investigation into socio-economic change, HALO has investigated to what degree the principal goals and objectives, as set by the DOS during initial intervention in Nariño and La Unión, have been achieved. The principal goals and objectives were:
• To protect victims of conflict and restore access to land and infrastructure;
• Return of land and infrastructure to productive use;
• Provide a safe environment for the Colombian habitants and returnees in urban and rural areas, thus facilitating the return of internally displaced people to their hometowns, normalization of local socio-economic conditions to enable repatriation, resettlement and the rehabilitation of the country.
Information was collected through desk based research, as well as household surveys and key informant interviews in both municipalities, to establish the level of socio-economic development generated as a result of humanitarian demining. A comparison was drawn between three specific target groups: direct beneficiary households, indirect beneficiary households and a control group (households located in veredas2 where no contamination was identified). It is important to note that no contamination was identified in the municipality of La Unión, which allowed HALO to measure level of socio-economic development between a municipality affected by IED (improvised landmines) contamination (Nariño) and a municipality where there was only suspicion of IEDs (la Unión) reported. This in turn has allowed HALO to identify the benefits of intervention through non-technical survey (NTS) and compare them with the benefits seen as a result of the removal of explosive remnants of war (ERW) through manual clearance.
Through this investigation, HALO has successfully established that there is a strong causal link between socio-economic development and humanitarian demining intervention in Nariño and La Unión. This link is demonstrated in six principal areas:
i. Productive land use: including cleared land and increased agricultural productivity;
ii. Economic benefit: through increases to property value and increased monthly income;
iii. Social benefit: increased connectivity within communities, return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and reduction in levels of fear;
iv. Municipal economic growth: principally through the collection of property tax;
v. Implementation of development projects: improvements in the standard of living through municipal and third party investment in rural community projects;
vi. Employment: hiring of local staff from Nariño.
Through the process of land release as a result of manual clearance and NTS, HALO has created the conditions that allow for sustainable socio-economic growth in both municipalities, where rural communities no longer live in fear of accidents caused by ERW. Though the level of socio-economic development is more clearly visible in Nariño, where IEDs were identified and subsequently cleared, noteworthy benefits of HALO’s intervention in La Unión were reported.