Carlos Alberto Ávila Cerón, Ignacio De los Rios-Carmenado, Maria Rivera, Susana Martina


During the past fifty years, Colombia has endured an internal armed conflict. It has left as a result massive forced displacements, destruction of the social capital and indiscriminate logging of forests in regions affected by illicit crops and a strong presence of illegal armed groups supported by drug trafficking. In spite of a number of national policies and programs against illicit crops, the issue still persists, along with all the social implications it carries with.
This paper presents a model for planning rural development projects in regions with illicit crops. The methodology applied is based on the model "Working With People (WWP)" and integrates the knowledge and experience gathered throughout the implementation of various projects in the region of La Macarena, Colombia. It takes into account eight years of continuous work with the communities, in one of the areas of greatest social unrest in Colombia, due to illicit crops, on-going criminal activity and violence by illegal armed groups and a weak presence of State institutions. Some of the factors hindering successful advancement of rural development policies include the breakdown of the social fabric, deterioration of moral values, family disintegration and lack of confidence. The conceptual framework applied integrates elements from policy analysis and social learning (Friedmann, 1991; Cazorla et al., 2015), proposed as a reaction from traditional and ineffective social reform models (Friedmann, 1991) developed in this type of scenarios.
Following a thorough review of rural development planning theories regarding illicit crops areas, we carried out an analysis of the experience in the Macarena region under the WWP model. The results show the effects of the WWP model and the necessity to develop a strategy for the eradication of illicit crops in a post-conflict scenario, taking into account various social variables. Findings denote a greater relevance of the ethical-social and political-contextual dimensions in terms of sustainable rural development. Trust building, the enhancement of social relationships and direct interaction with target communities are the basic factors to the reconstruction of the social fabric and value systems, fostering sustainable rural development and stabilization.

Keywords: Post conflict, illicit crops, rural development, rural prosperity, Working With People.

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