Colombia Avanza is implemented in the municipalities of Pitalito and Acevedo in Huila, and Chaparral and Planadas in Tolima, two of the departments with the highest national participation in coffee production. In recent years, these areas have positioned themselves as the new Colombian coffee region.
Colombia Avanza partners with relevant and representative allies of coffee institutions at the regional and local levels, such as the National Federation of Coffee Growers, the Departmental Committees of Tolima and Huila, and the Coffee Growers Cooperatives of Huila (Cadefihuila) and Tolima (Cafisur). Joint initiatives have also been carried out with the University of Ibagué to strengthen CSOs’ capacity to identify and address child labor. Also, Colombia Avanza works hand in hand with public institutions from the national government that work on labor conditions and the protection and care of families, such as the Ministry of Labor and the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF).
Despite Colombia's great efforts to prevent and eradicate child labor and the notable progress made in Colombia to reduce the rate of child labor in the last five years, some economic activities continue to involve the participation of children and adolescents for various tasks. In particular, Colombian coffee was included in the list of products made with child labor or forced labor presented by USDOL Office of International Labor Affairs (ILAB).
For this reason, and by the United States Government’s will to support Colombia in its efforts to strengthen CSOs as agents of change that contribute to generating alternatives to recognize and combat child labor and forced labor, POA implements Colombia Avanza in the coffee sector.
Carlos Arturo Díaz, a young Colombian coffee farmer, left his studies as a teenager to work and had to face hard days collecting coffee. He understood that he must be studying and that, as he himself reflects, "he woke up and knew that it is not fair for children to leave school to work." Today, Carlos is a father, he works so that his son grows up as a happy child and to inherit his legacy: love for his coffee plantation.
In partnership with the University of Ibague, Colombia Avanza carried out a cycle of trainings on child labor and acceptable working conditions in the coffee sector. Members of CSOs participated in this 16-hour training to learn: the relevance of coffee in the Colombian context, the difference between what is and what is not child labor, what are the dangerous activities that boys, girls and adolescents cannot participate in, the importance of implementing occupational health and safety systems in the coffee sector and the benefits of association as a mechanism to carry out collective actions and achieve a common benefit.