More on Colombia

With a population of 47.7 million, Colombia is South America’s second-largest country and its third-biggest economy. The country is classified as upper middle income; poverty levels have more than halved over the last quarter of a century to under 30 percent. Even so, a GINI index of over 50 signals a large measure of social inequality. Poverty and food insecurity are markedly higher in rural areas, and disproportionately affect women.

Despite high growth rates in recent years and a strong farming tradition, Colombia continues to imports 28 per cent of the food it consumes. The economy is increasingly reliant on oil revenues, which makes it particularly vulnerable to price fluctuations. The promise of durable peace, after decades of civil conflict, remains fragile due to high levels of violence and crime. This constrains development and the delivery of services in many parts of the country. 

Current issues in Colombia

The Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have come closer to ending the country’s long internal conflict. But despite prospects for agreement on thorny issues such as transitional justice, de-mining and reparations, the conflict’s repercussions are still widely felt: after Syria, Colombia has world’s largest number of internally displaced people. This has bred food insecurity and loss of livelihoods; it is associated with child labour, school desertion and sexual exploitation – as well as the recruitment by armed groups of thousands of mostly indigenous children. Among displaced women, as many as half may have suffered sexual and gender-based violence. Many of the displaced still need humanitarian assistance. 

Economic growth has slowed over the past year; sharp drops in oil revenues and the value of the peso have driven up food prices and squeezed social spending. But even through the years of strong growth, severe inequalities marked Colombia: the dynamic urban centers co-exist with an impoverished rural hinterland that is institutionally weak and conflict-affected. Parts of Colombia remain excluded from the Government’s otherwise considerable social investment. Through poor access to staples and nutritious foods, 43 percent of Colombians consider themselves food insecure. Among displaced children, the chronic malnutrition rate is double the national average of 12 percent. In the indigenous communities of the Pacific Coast, 90 percent of children under five are chronically malnourished. More than six out of 10 households live without assets, and many lack proper access to housing, water and sanitation.

While helping the most vulnerable secure access to quality food, WFP supports the creation of an environment of peace and reconciliation. We emphasize confidence-building approaches that strengthen the resilience of affected communities and the capacities of local authorities; all with the aim of helping Colombians achieve a lasting and sustainable peace.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Colombia

•    In 2015, WFP began implementing a Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation: it aims to reach 660,000 conflict-affected people over three years, at a cost of US$61 million. We contribute to Colombia’s National Development Plan and Post-Conflict Strategy by improving access to food in remote areas; reducing micronutrient deficiencies and chronic undernutrition; building resilience; cutting disaster risk; and supporting smallholder farmers and their communities. 

•    Through its sub-office structure, WFP reaches remote and insecure, conflict-affected areas to support Government priorities in emergency, recovery and development. Recognizing WFP as a valued partner, the Government has given us US$42 million in resources since 2009 to cover critical relief gaps in nutrition programmes and in the provision of assistance to internally displaced persons. 

•    At the request of Government entities, WFP also helps strengthen capacities at the national and local level. We develop and test implementation models for social programmes – for example, conditioned food, voucher transfers or local purchases – and generate evidence that informs policy decisions.

World Food Programme partners in Colombia

WFP cannot fight global hunger and poverty alone. These are our partners in Colombia:


Featured Colombia publications

  • Colombia: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 397 KB)

    A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.

Looking for more publications on Colombia? Visit the Colombia publications archive.