In 2017-18 we visited the Meta department in Colombia on multiple occasions. Located right where Colombia’s Llanos Orientales (Eastern Plains) disappear south into the vastness of the Amazon rainforest, this area of the size of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg combined is a magical spot in the world’s second most biodiverse country.
Meta is not a poor region - it boasts some of the nation’s largest oil reserves. Highly fertile soil and multiple thermal floors have created a boom in agribusiness in recent years, while its geographic proximity to Colombia’s capital has more recently led to a thriving tourism industry.
Despite having made significant progress on many fronts, this region still faces critical challenges. On our last visit, we had the opportunity to chat for hours with several small-scale farmers from south-western Meta – a sub-region where economic development has been seriously damaged by the cultivation of coca leaf, the raw material used to produce cocaine.
Agriculture and Rural Development
“When the company let us down, we only imposed a fine. We must be firm with companies and with vendors, otherwise they fail to fulfill their end. This is how to move the project forward”. This testimony impressed me a lot when I heard it from an indigenous woman in Bolivia, who was proud to be part of the steering committee and defend the interests of the community in the project.
Bolivia has a terrific success story to tell about encouraging rural women to take the lead in their communities and organizations and lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
Imagine you live in a city that floods, sometime for weeks, after extreme rainfalls.
Imagine you live in that flooded city, where you and thousands of your neighbors must find a place to stay till the water has receded, and you finally can get back home, with the fear of finding it devastated.
The city of Trinidad is a place like this, located in Bolivia’s Amazonian low-lands, and with heavy prolonged precipitation, rivers, lagoons and lakes rise, affecting thousands of families.
Overall in Bolivia, 43% of the population lives in areas of high flood risk. Trinidad and other cities in the low-lands experience inundations, while in La Paz, Bolivia’s political center, frequent landslides lead to fatalities and damage to housing and infrastructure.
A matching grant enabled the Brazilian cooperative Coopervoltapinho to build a rice silo. All photos by Romeu Scirea.
Imagine driving along a rural road and seeing many small farms, all growing flourishing crops. Would you know how the farmers obtained the funds to plant these crops, enhance their productivity, and deliver them to market?
Not long after I joined the World Bank, I worked on a team assessing the extent and severity of land degradation in El Salvador. As part of this work, I went to visit the site of a soil conservation project that had been implemented a few years earlier and was considered extremely successful. Indeed, the project’s implementation report was full of numbers on linear kilometers of terraces built, and other indicators of success. Once we reached the project site, however, we looked in vain for any sign of a terrace. The terraces had once been there (there were photographs to prove it), but a few years later they no longer were.
That results may not last once a project ends is a constant concern. The extent to which it is actually a problem is hard to assess, however, as there rarely is any monitoring after a project closes.
The world’s third most affected country in terms of climatic events, Haiti seeks to better manage natural hazards to improve resilience
Haiti is highly vulnerable to natural hazards. Situated within the north Atlantic hurricane belt, andsat on top of the boundary between the Caribbean and North American plates, the risks are constant. However, this does not mean that disasters are inevitable.
Troisième pays au monde le plus touché en termes d’événements climatiques, Haïti cherche à mieuxgérer les risques naturels pour améliorer la résilience
Haïti est très vulnérable aux risques naturels. Situé dans la ceinture de l'ouragan de l'Atlantique Nord, etjuste au-dessus de la frontière entre les plaques des Caraïbes et de l'Amérique du Nord, les risques sont permanents. Toutefois, cela ne signifie pas que les catastrophes sont inévitables.
Nous avons visité la région la plus touchée pour voir comment les communautés se rétablissent après le passage de l’ouragan Matthew le 4 octobre 2016.
Deux mois après que l'ouragan ait dévasté les départements du sud d'Haïti, des efforts de reconstruction sont en cours. Dans certaines régions, des panneaux d’acier ondulés tout neufs scintillent sous le soleil, remplaçant les toits emportés par l'ouragan.
Two months after Hurricane Matthew devastated the southern provinces of Haiti, rebuilding efforts are underway. In some areas, shiny new corrugated steel panels glimmer under the sun where the hurricane stripped away roofs.