Peace with Hunger: Colombia’s checkered experience with post-conflict sustainable community development in emerald-mining regions

The interactions between conflict and local development has puzzled scholars and practitioners alike. This article explores why the advent of peace in Colombia’s emerald-mining regions for the past few years, as well as a broader national peace process, has not delivered the expected development dividends among mining communities. We contrast differences in stakeholders’ perceptions between levels of governance (local, regional and national).

Based on the research, we conclude that while stakeholder collaboration is successful at the regional and national levels of governance, it fails at the local level. While peace has allowed an increase in mainstream business investment in mining, this has concentrated production in a few hands leading to a deterioration in many aspects of community livelihoods and wealth distribution. There has been a shift in the concentration of wealth and production from traditional elites to large companies. Communities noted a loss of collective assets and lack of community and institutional capacity to overcome pressing issues in a post-conflict market economy that favors those who control capital and technology. Based on an evaluation of community perceptions through a focus group methodology, this study recommends ways to prepare and better coordinate stakeholders to engage with complex relationships and protect community assets in a collaborative governance scenario. This research suggests that political reconciliation processes amid complex resource geographies require greater devolution and community engagement on post-conflict economic development during the peace process itself.

Published 2019-01-15