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M├Ądchen aus Kolumbien: Elida

We are here in Colombia

More than twenty percent of the population has left Venezuela since 2015, making it one of the largest displacement crises in the world. Over a third of all of those who leave Venezuela go to neighbouring Colombia. The country hosts 2.9 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees. Many of them arrive illegally. This affects their ability to access essential services, protection and assistance.

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 The largest exile crisis in the history of the region

Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Colombia
people in Colombia are food insecure
people in Colombia do not have access to clean water sources

Emergency aid 

Focus on the most vulnerable

In May 2019, ZOA started its operations in Colombia to respond to the needs of the many Venezuelans who seek refuge in Colombia. The Venezuelans flee from a bankrupt country were food, fuel and medicines are no longer available due to the extremely high inflation. Many of them only take what they can carry.

ZOA provides assistance to vulnerable Venezuelan migrants and host community members. In La Guajira, we work with Venezuelan migrants, indigenous Wayuu and poor host populations. Since August 2020, we are also active in Arauca, a border department that has become an important legal entry point for migrants into Colombia. From September 2022, ZOA is also actively working in Norte de Santander and Santander, the most transited migrant border route. Here, we mainly help the most vulnerable caminantes, refugees and migrants travelling on foot. 

ZOA focuses on WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), food security and protection through MPVA.We now work in 10 departments across Colombia, with 12 regional offices and on average 6 projects at any given time.

Access to clean water in La Guajira

La Guajira is one of the poorest desert departments in northern Colombia that suffers from chronic water shortages. Here, the most vulnerable Venezuelan migrants and host community members live in informal settlements facing extreme challenges: no access to public water and sanitation facilities. 

Since 2020, ZOA has constructed 3,375 household pit latrines (to reduce the prevalence of open-air defecation), distributed 1,300 water filters and 3,305 hygiene kits, and provided 2,420 handwashing stations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Further to this, since 2020, six complete new bathroom blocks have been constructed totaling 46 brand new toilet cubicles.

Access to food in La Guajira

In the northernmost part of La Guajira, we support the Wayuu population with cash assistance and food. The Wayuu inhabit the Venezuela-Colombia border area and have been receiving support for a long time of the United Nations World Food Programme. As a partner, ZOA has been sharing an average of 30,000 food parcels per month since 2021 to more than 100 remote communities in La Guajira. This is WFPs largest food distribution in Colombia.

Furthermore ZOA also implements food assistance through cash and vouchers to 4,125 individuals in Sur Guajira. ZOA has managed to support 4301 households (23,161 individuals) through 6-month food cash vouchers since January 2020 across three departments in Colombia.

Facts and figures about ZOA's work in Colombia in 2022

With a team of 89 staff members we supported 164,756 people.

emergency food and hygiene kits were distributed during floodings
food kits were delivered monthly to more than 100 remote, indigenous Wayuu communities
of our budget was spent on relief aid

Support for caminantes across Colombia

Due to the continuing decline of Venezuela, the poorest migrants are now leaving their country by foot. These brave caminantes walk hundreds of kilometres without any support. ZOA is helping toprovide cash assistance throughout Colombia to migrants in transit. The assistance provides access to NFIs, shelter, medicine, food and transport.

The electronic cards allow them to decide for themselves what they want to buy, depending on the needs of the family members. This project now spans 7 departments across Colombia. The project, funded by BPRM, aims to assist 28,140 individuals over a 12 month period.

Working together

Donors and partners

Our work in Colombia is funded by our constituency in the Netherlands. In Colombia, we work with BPRM, WFP, UNICEF and CFGB.

Woman talking to a ZOA worker in Colombia

Laura, Colombia

My kids were crying: 'In Venezuela we had no food, but here is no shelter to protect us.' Fortunately, ZOA gave us materials for building a latrine. I am very grateful for their support!"