In December 2017, Partners of the Americas (POA) signed a cooperative agreement to implement the Colombia Avanza project in Colombia, which aims to to improve the capacity of the civil society to better understand and address Child Labor (CL) and promote acceptable conditions of work (ACW) in Colombia’s coffee sector. This project has a duration of three (3) years and prioritizes the departments of Tolima and Huila. All project funds come from the United States Government through the Department of Labor (USDOL), under cooperative agreement IL-31475-17-75-K.

To achieve its main objective, the Project has three intermediate objectives:

Improve the capacity of the civil society to identify and document accurate, independent, and objective information on the nature and scope of CL and/or forced labor, and violations of ACW in the coffee sector.

Improve the capacity of the civil society to raise awareness for the protection of workers from CL and violations of ACW in the coffee sector.

Strengthen the civil society’s capacity to understand enforcement of policies and actions that are relevant, accessible and responsive to the nature of CL and/or forced labor and violations of ACW in Colombia’s coffee sector.

The Project will not carry out direct educational and livelihood services to individual participants that are affected by or at risk of CL; instead, the targeted civil society organizations (CSOs) will be the beneficiaries of the Project’s activities.

Partners of the Americas is an NGO based in Washington D.C., United States, founded in 1964 with the aim of creating ties of regional cooperation and social development between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean. Specifically, in Colombia, POA has been present for over 50 years through work in the following areas: education profession and youth exchange; combatting CL; promoting youth leadership; and agriculture and food security.

*Acronyms: Fedecafé (Federación Nacional de Cafeteros/National Federation of Coffee Growers), Cadefihuila (Cooperativas de Caficultores del Huila/Coffee Growers Cooperatives of Huila), SENA (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje/National Service of Learning), ICBF (Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar/Colombian Institute of Family Welfare), Cafisur (Cooperativa de Caficultores del Sur del Tolima/Coffee Growers Cooperative of the South of Tolima), CIETI (Interagency Committee for the Elimination of Child Labor)

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).

For the purposes of this project, the term Civil Society includes community groups, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), indigenous groups, foundations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, human rights groups, unions and journalists.

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.

Colombia Avanza is funded by the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) under cooperation agreement number IL-31475-17-75-K. 100% of the total cost of the project is financed with federal funds, for a total of USD $ 2,000,000.


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.


We commemorated World Day Against Child Labor with the first Departmental Contest of Young Baristas in Pitalito, Huila. On June 17 and 18, 2019, 15 young competitors demonstrated their abilities to make the best coffee-based drinks.


Colombia Avanza joins the celebration of the international day of rural women, paying tribute to their strength, persistence, and example, worthy of the admiration of women who work in agriculture.

Guidelines for strengthening the CIETI instance in the territorial sphere

Colombia Avanza developed the guidebook "Guidelines to strengthen the CIETI instance at the local level" in conjunction with the Ministry of Labor and the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF). This booklet provides conceptual elements on the prevention of child labor and the protection of adolescent workers, provides practical tools to improve the operation of the Interagency Committee for the Elimination of Child Labor (CIETI), and promotes the development of good practices of this instance of institutional coordination.

Cycle of training in communications to prevent Child Labor

Colombia Avanza carried out a cycle of 14 virtual trainings in communications for the members of the Coffee Growers Cooperatives of Huila (Cadefihuila), the Coffee Growers Cooperative of the South of Tolima (Cafisur) and the youth nodes of Pitalito and Chaparral of the Rural Youth Network of Colombia. With this training, the participants of the Civil Society Organizations supported by Colombia Avanza, acquired knowledge in radio, from the best and most recognized tutors in the field. Each of the participants showed their talent and affection for their ancestors and their efforts to prevent child labor in the rural areas. Listen to the four radio spots produced by the participants that were broadcast on seven radio stations in Tolima and Huila, reaching 6 departments and more than 40 municipalities.

Listen to the radio spots here