Dialogue spaces for local governance

Despite the important contribution of the Cerrejon mine to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Colombia in over more than 40 years that the mining company has been in the region, communication and relations between the company and the local governments of the south of La Guajira have been very weak.

In Manaure, there was a long history of artisanal salt mining within the local Wayuu population. However, once the land concession was given to SAMA (Indigenous Communities Associations of Manaure) and BG Salinas was hired as the private sector operator, artisanal salt production declined, community income and benefits waned, and conflicts arose between the surrounding indigenous communities, SAMA, and BG Salinas.

Multi-actor dialogue tables

For this reason, two multi-stakeholder dialogue spaces were created to help transform the reality of the municipalities of La Guajira, the relationship with the mining company, and the vision that the communities had for the development of their region.

Water Table of La Guajira

In 2017, La Guajira received the support and advice of Canadian municipal experts from Langley, BC and La Conception, Quebec, on water management. Local governments saw the importance and opportunity of finding solutions to local problems with a regional approach. The Water Table was formed. It is a multi-stakeholder dialogue space that identified the main needs and challenges with respect to water access in La Guajira, including among 28 indigenous communities.

A multi-actor Water Roundtable, led by the local government of Barrancas, was formed to identify resource challenges and needs. The Table included two indigenous communities, 11 municipalities, actors from civil society, the Cerrejon mining company, and the public sector. The process created trust and find coordinated solutions. It prompted the national President’s Office to become involved and create a water storage program called Blue Guajira for the whole region. The program will invest 200 million USD over five years with the goal to capture and store 70% of the water in La Guajira by 2022.


Roundtable for Salt Development in Manaure

For over 30 years, the salt exploitation of the region was in the hands of the State and by the year 2000, Manaure was the main producer of salt in the country. However, a series of problems between the actors of the salt value chain impacted production and operational development, and greatly eroded the quality of life of the people from Manaure. In the last 10 years they had difficulties in selling and marketing the salt.

In 2016, representatives of the local government, SAMA, BG Salinas, the Chamber of Commerce, and tourism operators were invited Maras, Cusco, to see the artisanal salt development in the region. During the study tour to Maras participants learned the successful practices of developing the salt value chain and creating a tourism experience around it.

CISAL promoted the creation of the Roundtable for Salt Development in Manaure. The Roundtable is a space for dialogue and coordination between local, regional and national actors to define concrete actions and to strengthen the salt value chain in a way that contributes to the economic and social development of the municipality.