Poverty and inequality
Colombia has a growing economy, and poverty levels have come down in recent years. Yet millions of Colombians are still desperately poor.
- Poverty: Of Colombia's 48.9 million people, 27.8% live in poverty, rising to 40.3% in rural areas.
- Extreme Poverty: 7.9%, nearly 4 million people, live in extreme poverty, lacking even the essentials of life. This figure rises to 18% in the countryside.
- Inequality: Very high levels of inequality mean Colombia has the lowest level of human development in all South America, except Paraguay and Bolivia. Although poverty levels have reduced in recent years, inequality has not.
While average levels of poverty in Colombia are troublingly high, poverty is even higher among certain groups and regions. For example, a study showed that in 2015, two thirds of Colombia's millions of displaced people live in poverty.
Afro-Colombian and indigenous people, women, people with disabilities and young people who have been in care are also disproportionately likely to be affected by poverty.
Military confrontation continues to force many from their homes. The country is hopeful that the current round of peace talks will put an end to the armed conflict between the FARC guerrillas and the Colombian state. In the meantime, the 50-year long conflict goes on.
In addition, many neighbourhoods are controlled by illegal armed groups, including guerrillas and former paramilitaries. Murder, extortion, sexual violence and other human rights abuses by these groups continue to drive large numbers of people from their homes.
- More than 50% of Colombian IDPs live in informal urban settlements.
- 63% of Colombian IDPs live below the poverty line and 33% live in extreme poverty.
- 48% of Colombian IDPs are 6-26 years old
What does this mean for children in Colombia?
The effects of all of this on children are multiple and serious.
The children we work with live in sprawling urban slums where they have limited access to basic services such as water, electricity, health care and education.
Violence and insecurity is pervasive in their neighbourhoods, children are at high risk of recruitment into armed groups, and there are often 'invisible borders' controlled by rival gangs, which children can't cross without risking their lives. Children also face high levels of sexual violence and many are affected by violence at school.
Witnessing and experiencing violence of different kinds often leaves children traumatised.