Colombia: Impacts of COVID-19 on Peace

The crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic has had various impacts, amongst them, the increase in poverty numbers, the deepening of food insecurity, the deterioration of the security crisis and the limitations in the implementation of the Peace Agreement.

According to information from DANE1, about 5.2 million people living in rural Colombia do not have the means to meet their needs, and 2.1 million people do not have the resources to live and procure to themselves bare necessity items. The entity also informs that a quarter of Colombian households have gone from eating 3 meals to just 2 per day due to the crisis generated by the pandemic2.

A severe increase in poverty levels in the country is also seen because of the crisis. Analysts’ estimates are worrying: Poverty could reach a level between 47 and 49% and extreme poverty a 14%3, according to estimates by Fedesarrollo, for his part, economist Luis Jorge Garay estimates that poverty will reach 60% and extreme poverty 20%.

The crisis generated by the pandemic has highlighted the poor health infrastructure in rural areas manifested in the inexistence of ICU beds in 89% of PDET municipalities or in a low screening rate per 10,000 inhabitants compared to the national total. Also, in the municipalities prioritized by the Territorially Focused Development Plans – PDET, a higher case fatality percentage than in the rest of the country is recorded (3.6% compared to 2.6%)

In the Agreement, the creation of 16 National Plans for Integral Rural Reform – PNRRI, in Spanish, is established, and their intend is to close these gaps between the countryside and the city. The PNRRIs were to be approved in their entirety in the early implementation phase in 2018, yet, to date, only 9 of them4 have been approved, which does not include the National Rural Health Plan.

During the season of mandatory quarantine to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, security deteriorated and violence escalated, although there was an increase since the signing of the Agreement. Illegal armed groups have increased the acts of social pressure and control on communities and social leadership to comply with restrictions. In fact, in some municipalities of the country, assassinations against residents who violated measures imposed by armed groups have been recorded.

It is important to point out that under the Duque government, the territorial presence of illegal armed groups increased dramatically, so that FARC dissidents, ELN and paramilitary groups have almost doubled their territorial armed presence during the last two years. FARC dissidents have grown from operating in 56 municipalities in 2018 to 113 in August 2020. ELN has grown from being present in 99 municipalities to over 160 in 2020. Paramilitarism has accomplished the consolidation of a greater territorial presence: Clan del Golfo operates in over 200 municipalities currently5.

Finally, it should be noted that the implementation of the Agreement suffered various impacts on several aspects: firstly, the quarantine measures have left the population more exposed to the actions of armed groups, weakened community building of the social tissue and limited community participation in public policy processes. Additionally, they could have contributed to certain processes, such as public works, slowing down its implementation6.

1 National Statistics Department

2 DANE (March 25, 2021) Octava ronda de la Encuesta de Pulso Social. Available at:

3 La República (october 19, 2020) “La pobreza en Colombia va a alcanzar un nivel de entre 47% y 49% por la pandemia del covid” Available at:

4 These being: The National Plan for Housing, Rural Electrification, Roads, Connectivity, Support for Peasant Economies, Irrigation and the Plan for the Protection of the Rights of Peasant Workers.

5 PARES (2020) Seguridad en tiempos de pandemia. Legados de guerra y crimen organizado en Colombia. Available at:

6 Secretaría Técnica del Componente Internacional de Verificación CINEP/PPP-CERAC (2021) Octavo Informe de verificación de la implementación del Acuerdo Final de Paz en Colombia. Available at: