From coca to butterflies: Managing Natural Resources for Post-Conflict Peacebuilding. A Case Study of Otanche Community, Colombia.

University essay from Lunds universitet/LUMID International Master programme in applied International Development and Management; Lunds universitet/Institutionen för kulturgeografi och ekonomisk geografi

Abstract: Inspired by environmental peacebuilding literature, this research explores the peacebuilding potential of natural resources through a qualitative case study of a conflict-affected community’s transition of livelihood strategies from coca cultivation to butterfly farming. The fieldwork was carried out with peasant families in rural Otanche - a biodiversity-rich area that, besides the Colombian conflict, has been affected by illegal logging, illicit crops, and violence associated with emerald mining. Based primarily on in-depth interviews and participant observation, the research examines the impact of natural resource exploitation on the community’s livelihoods; sheds light on the influencing factors of the livelihood strategy transition; and explores how the current ways of natural resource management create synergies for peacebuilding. The main findings reveal, that in contrast to the destructive effects of eroded social capital on the environment during coca cultivation, sustainable butterfly farming contributes to the establishment of sustainable livelihoods for Otanche community. Moreover, it enhances social capital through the encouragement of cooperation, reciprocity and exchange; formation of relations of trust, and shared social identity. Social capital in turn improves natural resource management through increased ecological literacy, enhanced on-farm agrobiodiversity and reforestation activities that contribute to the long-term sustainability of the resource base.

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