Project Factsheet
Tools for » Indigenous and Afro-Colombian Communities in the Choco department promote their Food Security and Nutrition
Project ID:00067240Description:MDGF-2005-I-COL Children Nutri
MDG Achievement Fund
Start Date *: 31 Mar 2009
MDGF SP-ChildFoodSec&Nutri
End Date*: 31 Mar 2013
Country: Colombia Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple


The program aimed to improve food security, nutrition and WATSAN (water and sanitation) amongst selected indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in the Department of Chocó. It sought to do this through comprehensive activities aimed at children under five years of age, with special emphasis on children under two years, including work with pregnant and breastfeeding women. Specifically it targeted rural populations and was implemented in 9 municipalities, mainly Carmen de Atrato, Itsmina, Litoral del San Juan, Nóvita, Quibdó, Rio Quito, Sipí, Medio San Juan y Tadó. The programme was fully aligned with the strategic objectives pursued at national level.

The JP had three main strategies or effects: Outcome 1) the promotion of integrated models for better health, food security, nutrition and early education on WATSAN; Outcome 2) the recovery and promotion of culturally and ethnically sensitive agro-alimentary practices and; Outcome 3) the strengthening of local and regional organizations to ensure sustainability of these actions.

As such, it was able to have a positive impact in several nutrition related indicators such as decreased prevalence of low weight and low weight for height in children under 5 years; decreased prevalence of underweight and overweight pregnant women; decreased prevalence of acute diarrheal and decreased anemia in children under six years, amongst others. It also achieved its goal of instituting better community led practices to increase food security and WATSAN, such as by increasing the number of households treating water before consumption and making adequate waste disposal. Another result highlighted was the JP’s contribution to strengthening and empowering women in the target communities as bearers of knowledge essential for the preservation of life, growth and development for the children their communities.

Although the full impact of its actions is expected to be visible only in the long term, the programme’s main achievement is having validated a gender and ethnic sensitive model to promote food security, nutrition and WATSAN which is able to reduce extreme poverty, hunger, malnutrition rates, infant mortality and morbidity. In addition, lessons learned and potential for replication were identified.


Outcome 1:

The program sought to implement integrated models for better health, food security, nutrition and early education, aimed at children up to 5 years, with emphasis on pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children under two years of age.


Outcome Achievments:

  • Decreased prevalence of low weight for children under 5 years of 15,3% at 10,7%.
  • Decreased prevalence of low weight for height in children under 5 years of 1,8% at 0,2%.
  • Decreased prevalence of underweight and overweight pregnant women. Underweight was reduced from 14.6 to 4.4%. Regarding to overweight measures there are not reliable data, due to lack of accuracy in weeks of pregnancy estimations.
  • Increase percentage of children recovered through the community centered strategy (ABC) 87.80% (223 children).
  • Decreased prevalence of episodes of acute diarrheal children under 5 years From 30.2% to 10.6%.
  • Increase percentage of children between 0 and 6 months who’ve had exclusive breastfeeding 65% increased.
  • Decreased prevalence of anemia in children under six years From 53.9% to 52.4%.
  • Increase percentage of families that implement the Integrated 13 key practices. From 0 to 78.23%.
  • Increase percentage of families benefiting from the equipment and facilities for clean water supply From 0% to 100%.
  • Increase percentage of households treating water before consumption From 27,9% to 76,6%.
  • Increase percentage of households that make adequate disposal of waste From 11,9% to 62,5%.


Outcome 2:

Agro-alimentary knowledge and practices were recovered and strengthened, and income generation improved, as well as promoting new practices adapted through an ethno-cultural, gender and community lens, with emphasis on households with children up to 5 years, pregnant women and nursing mothers.


Outcome Achievements:

  • An ethno-territorial agro-food strategy was agreed and implemented. The model was agreed and implemented.
  • Decreased prevalence of severe food insecurity amongst participating families From 80,43% to 3,93%.
  • Increased number of environmentally sustainable proposals developed locally that address water and sanitation and are being implemented. 9 proposals implemented. Increased number of household and / or community projects strengthened and established through the programme’s ventures fund--2,094 households and 27 communities.


Outcome 3:

Local and regional authorities, civil society, traditional organizations, indigenous and Colombian communities institutionally strengthened to participate in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of plans, policies and programs for food security and  nutrition for children in indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.


Outcome Achievements:

  • A number of socio-cultural fairs, meetings and cultural events promoted to exchange experiences and knowledge. 3 socio-cultural fairs and 3 events to exchange experiences.
  • Several institutional spaces for food security, nutrition, water and sanitation decision-making reactivated and strengthened. 18 municipal councils sessions were promoted and included social policies, additionally 6 municipal and inter-sectoral round tables were carried out to formulate FSN plans.
  • Capacity building in food security, nutrition and WATSAN (water and sanitation). 6 municipal development plans included FSN policies.


Best Practices:

  • The program promoted knowledge exchange between indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities within the department and with other regions, allowing for knowledge sharing of skills and practices that support the improvement of community production processes.
  • A Principles Framework was agreed with the communities, this helped to shape the relationship between the programme and the communities.
  • The creation of Volunteer Committees will be key for the sustainability the of the programme actions.
  • Inclusion of water and sanitation leaders from indigenous or Afro-Colombian communities as community trainers to ensure an ethnic worldview is incorporated to the programme’s actions. This relationship transcends the traditional way to link indigenous and African populations limited to logistical support.
  • The programme managed to integrate all key practices and for communities to understand the programme’s goal of promoting better health and environment. This was achieved through a high level of consultation with communities.
  • The programme proposed a community led nutritional recovery model where care and recovery were provided through environmental factors such as productive practices, food and the strengthening of organizations, thus preventing destabilization of the families happening under the previous model, where care for malnutrition was done in Recovery centers located far from the communities.
  • The inter-agency work synchronized delivery of different strategies to achieve a greater impact.


Lessons Learned:

  • Ensuring that administrative and operational issues are at the service of the programme’s objectives was vital, especially given the complexities of the territory: difficult access, presence of armed conflict, institutional weaknesses, among others.
  • Weaknesses in information flow and decision-making between Communities and ethnic organizations had a negative impact on participation and planning. Some community-level actors felt more information and negotiation was required at this level.
  • In some cases it was necessary to reverse the order of activities to achieve better impact. For example, education on nutrition proved to be more effective before the start of community consumption processes, as it helps the community to understand its purpose. It is also important to start with the training of leaders, through the diploma, to facilitate understanding of the Program objectives and promote dialogue.
  • Monitoring and evaluation should be seen as a dynamic tool for analysis and information sharing rather than a mechanism to record information and draft reports.
  • Against a backdrop of conflict and instability, the program opted to prioritize grass root level organizations, which proven to be an effective way to achieve ownership and gradually generate impact at higher levels, for example, some actions at councils and community councils level were observed. The training strategy was key to this process as it ensured understanding of the ultimate objectives for food and nutrition security. 


More details can be found in the documents below.

Recent Documents
Key Figures
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If you have questions about this programme you may wish to contact the RC office in Colombia or the lead agency for the programme.

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