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.
Corruption has a considerable negative impact on development. Besides considerations associated with public ethics, corruption discourages private initiative and reduces available public resources, which in turn translates, for example, in less hospitals and poor education quality. Corruption also distorts the way governments use resources and undermines the public’s confidence in institutions.
Bribing, embezzlement, nepotism, and traffic of influence in decision-making processes are some of the typical manifestations of this form of bad government.
(Photo by Chico Ferreira, available under a Creative Commons license - CC-BY-2.0)
- small states
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Un arbre lui procure un peu d’ombre mais ne la protège guère de la chaleur. Chantal vient de faire la lessive familiale à la rivière. Elle est enceinte de quatre mois.
Nous sommes à une soixantaine de kilomètres au nord de la capitale haïtienne, Port-au-Prince. Le hameau où vit Chantal compte à peine vingt maisons, n’est relié que par un seul chemin de terre et ne dispose d’aucune structure médicale.