Colombia is the third most populous country in Latin America, with an estimated population of 44 million, 76 percent living in urban areas. Despite its middle-income country status, 21 million Colombians are poor and 6 million live below the extreme poverty line. Colombia’s 50-year conflict hampers economic growth, threatens vital infrastructure, displaces populations, erodes social and cultural cohesion, and generates enormous fiscal costs. The humanitarian crisis facing Colombia after more than 40 years of conflict makes it one of the countries with the highest rates of internally displaced people (IDP) in the world.
It is estimated that, to date, the accumulated number of Colombians who have been forced to abandon their areas to relocate in the marginal areas of many towns and cities may top three million.
An evaluation carried out jointly by the International Committee of the Red Cross and WFP shows that the average monthly income of an internally displaced family represents a little over 41 percent of the official minimum wage, equivalent to US$63 dollars. Of this amount, displaced people spend 58 percent on food, 6 percent on health, and just three percent on education.
The dynamics of displacements generally compel family groups to drastically change their daily routines. Once unable to generate sufficient income, the IDPs are forced to withdraw their children from school, reduce their consumption of food commodities that would provide them with a balanced nutritious diet and, eventually, reduce the number of times they eat every day.