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Background and Objectives

Under the Amazon Cooperation Treaty, signed in 1979, the Governments of Colombia and Peru agreed to give the maximum priority and dynamism to an Amazon cooperation policy oriented towards the establishment of the forms and mechanisms best suited to the particular requirements for the integral development of their respective Amazonian territories, thus ensuring their full incorporation into the national economies. Subsequently, in April of 1988, the Presidents of Colombia and Peru met in the town of San Antonio, on the Amazon River, and signed a Joint Declaration agreeing to a Bilateral Action Plan to carry out the Plan for the Integral Development of the Putumayo River Basin, to be executed within the framework of the Joint Committee for the Colombian-Peruvian Amazon Cooperation Treaty. Their ministries of foreign affairs were asked to jointly negotiate financial support from international organizations, especially the Organization of American States.

The first meeting of the Joint Committee took place in August 1988 in Leticia, Colombia, capital of Amazonas Department. In this meeting, the terms of reference for the drafting of the Plan for the Integral Development of the Putumayo River Basin (PPCP) were approved, with the following global objectives:

a) To bring about integral and sustainable development in the region.

b) To improve the standard of living of the population.

c) To create a model of sustainable development.

d) To strengthen the present scientific and technological capacity to permit the generation of new alternatives for the use and management of natural resources.

e) To pay special attention to the indigenous communities on habitat improvement, land tenure, basic social services, environmental sanitation, and protection of their fundamental rights, particularly their social and cultural integrity.

f) To incorporate the area fully into economic and production activities of Colombia and Peru.

g) To make the PPCP an instrument for the promotion, implementation and management of regional development within the policies of the two countries, with the participation of the local economic agents and population.

Location and General Characteristics

The Plan for the Integral Development of the Putumayo River Basin covers an area of about 160,500 km² on the border between Peru and Colombia, in the Amazon Basin. The Colombian zone includes the departments of Putumayo and Amazonas and runs from Leticia, past the Putumayo River, and up to the Caquetá River on the North. The Peruvian zone comprises northern Loreto Province and parts of the provinces of Maynas and Ramon Castilla and involves mainly towns on the banks of the Putumayo, Napo, Yaraví, and Amazon.

The estimated population in 1995 was 143,493, with an average density of 0.87 per km². About 21% of the total is indigenous, settled mostly along the Amazon, Putumayo, Napo and Caquetá. The main towns are Leticia on the Amazon and Puerto Leguízamo on the Putumayo, both in Colombia. In Peru, Pevas and Caballococha are the largest towns.

The PPCP region is peripheral and marginal to the economies and productive activities of Colombia and Peru. Nevertheless, it has important natural forest resources and native species that could be used to advantage, and an extensive network of rivers with a good fishery potential. Most of the land, though far from all, is unsuitable for agriculture. The region is isolated from the rest of the countries, in the absence of means of communication and transport. The population is mainly scattered. Social services are limited because of the isolation, the limited population, the small size of the towns, and a regional and local administrative structure, the lack of which heretofore have discouraged the allocation of funds for the installation of social infrastructure. Living conditions are seriously affected by the lack and shortcomings of housing, nutrition, health, and education, the levels of which are all very low.

The indigenous population belongs to several language families, each with its own cultural patterns. The communities support themselves by making skillful and diversified use of the natural resources of the area. To the extent that they still preserve the basic elements of their traditional culture, they ensure their survival and the conservation of their fragile ecological environment.

Operating Structure and Methodology

Both governments designated national organizations to carry out the terms of reference for the Plan and coordinate it. In Colombia, this was originally the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology, and Land Adaptation (HIMAT); since 1995, it has been the Amazonian Institute for Scientific Research (SINCHI) of the Ministry of Environment. In Peru, the agencies are the National Development Institute (INADE) and the Regional Government of Loreto.

To carry out the proposed studies the countries created a Joint Committee, composed of representatives of their ministries of foreign affairs, as the top decision-making level for programs of common interest; an Executive Committee, responsible for the approval and supervision of studies and programs of activity for the achievement of the plan aims; a Technical Committee, to manage and administer the technical activities and harmonize the work of each country’s technical unit; and the technical units themselves, composed of a Unit Chief, local experts, consultants, and support staff, in charge of the coordination, execution, and evaluation of the studies and the identification and formulation of the projects for the priority areas selected.

The execution of the Plan began with the compilation, organization, and analysis of information on the available maps of the area, the use and management of natural resources, and the physical, social, and economic infrastructure. This information was complemented with fieldwork carried out by experts from national technical institutions and organizations. All this material was used to prepare for each country a diagnosis of its Amazon area included in the Plan, which were subsequently combined into a diagnosis of the binational area describing the regional situation and the main development potentialities and constraints.

The development strategy for the binational area of the Plan was prepared on the basis of this diagnosis and according to guidelines defined by the two governments; a series of national and binational projects were identified and, after being selected by the pertinent government agencies and ranked in priority order, were formulated at the prefeasibility level and grouped into programs by area or field of activity. The present document summarizes the results of that process, from the regional diagnosis through the main programs and projects.

It is important to mention that the Plan was developed participatively; every effort has been made to involve area population groups in decision-making and in the execution of the activities, so that they both contribute to and benefit from development. The Plan also seeks, at every stage of formulation and implementation, the active participation of the private sector (small, medium-sized, and large businesses) as a spur to development.


Through regional integration, the Plan aims at strengthening communities, raising the standard of living, and organizing the development process, with emphasis on the constraints imposed by the fragile Amazonian ecosystem and the need for conservation.

The following strategies have been proposed:

· To promote environmental zoning as a basic element in the design of research and sustainable production models and increase the possibilities for the use of natural resources.

· To design technological packages suitable to the area, drawing on its comparative advantages in forestry, agriculture, and biodiversity.

· To support the development of the local communities by strengthening antipoverty and emergency programs and the binational programs for the control of communicable diseases. Expand and integrate the supply of services in education and health; nutritional education; and the development of programs of community participation in the construction of housing and basic sanitation, with technologies appropriate to the region.

· To create a marketing network that will promote the supply of basic commodities and the purchase of regional products at prices that are fair to the producers.

· To design comprehensive programs and projects to improve the habitat of the indigenous communities, taking advantage of existing technical capacities and infrastructure in both countries.

· To generate new production alternatives to raise the standard of living.

· To develop the currently settled areas by concentrating activities and investment in strategic population centers along the Caquetá, Putumayo, Napo, and Amazon rivers, in order to strengthen the border areas and gradually integrate the entire region of the Plan into the countries economies.

· To support the public or private decentralized regional institutions responsible for the enforcement of regulations on natural resources, basic infrastructure, and the use of economic and financial resources by strengthening their management, administrative, and supervisory capacity.

General Structure and Cost of the Plan

The PPCP consists of the following five programs, each with a number of projects, subprojects, and activities:

· Environment Program
· Production Activities Program
· Infrastructure and Social Development Program
· Marketing Program
· Institutional Management and Organization Program
The projects identified vary in duration-short, medium, and long term. During their execution, a great deal of care will be taken to maintain interagency coordination between the two countries and create mechanisms that will expedite the implementation of the binational projects with the participation of both sides.

The costs of the Plan amount to US$ 87.8 million, of which US$ 66.5 million is for investments and US$ 21.3 million for operating costs. The national contribution in terms of governmental and community resources comes to US$ 34.3 million, or 39% of the total. The external financing required total approximately US$ 53.6 million (61%).

Programs and Projects

The following section describes briefly the five programs in the PPCP, including the projects that make them up, their costs, and their time frames.

Environment Program

This program combines environmental protection with productive and social development. The general objective is to promote the sustainable use of natural resources by creating and disseminating the most appropriate means for the improvement, management, and conservation of protected natural areas and forests. In this way, the program seeks to solve the environmental problems typical of the area (the deterioration of the regional ecosystem, the breakdown of the traditional production system, and indiscriminate deforestation, among others) through an integral proposal of conservation and development, with particular attention to protected natural areas, the consolidation of buffer zones, and alternatives for forest management and protection based on environmental education and research projects. One of the main strategies is to promote and support the active participation of the beneficiaries.

The protective activities will concentrate on selected areas and on buffer zones, the environmental education will be addressed to the entire population of about 100,000 and the research will be carried out both in areas now used for production and in the selected areas through studies of environmental zoning. The execution period is estimated at five years.

The projects in the Environment Program are the following:

· Integral and Sustainable Management of Forest in Tarapacá and Flor de Agosto.
· Environmental Education
· Amacayaca-Yaguas/La Paya-Güeppi Natural Parks
The costs of the Environment Program amount to US$ 135 million, of which US$ 56 million is for investments and US$ 78 millions for operating costs.

Productive Activities Program

The PPCP area is faced with the need to reverse a series of misfortunes related to production, such as environmental deterioration due to haphazard deforestation; soil erosion, compaction, and leaching caused by over-exploitation; low agricultural productivity; and inadequate use of fishing resources because of lack of fishery infrastructure, training, inputs, and credit, among other reasons.

The program conceived in response to this problem has two prongs. On one hand, it concentrates agricultural production in currently settled areas and limits deforestation through efficient and profitable productive systems suitable to the tropical ecosystem, so as to improve family income and the local diet. Further, it promotes the rationalization of fishing through research, training, the management and development of ornamental fisheries, fish farming, and other activities.

The first stage of the Program consist of two projects:

· Wildlife Management
· Integral Fisheries Management, which, in turn, includes the following subprojects:
- Edible and Ornamental Fish
- Fish Farming
- Fisheries Management and Development
- Education
The costs of the Program amount to US$ 14.1 million, of which US$ 6.8 million is for investments and US$ 7.2 million for operating costs.

Social Development and Infrastructure Program

The actions of the Plan concerned with resource management and planning, especially those in the Environment and Productive Activity programs, can only be implemented effectively if they are complemented by basic actions to meet social needs and provide economic infrastructure.

The regional diagnosis found that among the most serious problems in the region are health and sanitation. The health problems call for high priority and demand special treatment because they are concerned with the indigenous communities.

The low educational level in the region, which is due to the lack of schools, is another deficiency that needs to be corrected. Here again, special treatment will be required in the case of the indigenous population: the curricula will have to be adapted through refresher courses and training programs for teachers.

One cost that bears heavily on health and educational services is caused by the scarcity of transport infrastructure, which also affects the marketing of essential goods. Major support is therefore necessary to provide an infrastructure that can serve as a foundation for the other programs in the Development Plan.

In these circumstances, the Program seeks to change the conditions that cause health problems by coordinating health administration with the other programs; to preserve the culture of the social groups and indigenous peoples living in the region; and to solve the sanitation and education problems in a manner appropriate to the conditions of the region, including considerable participation by communities trained in the management and use of water and in improving the quality of education in the PPCP region.

Marketing Program

This Program aims at fully incorporating the PPCP region into the economic and productive activity of Colombia and Peru by developing and strengthening commercial activities along the Putumayo River. For this purpose it will attempt to facilitate and improve access to existing sources of information, so as to ensure the reduction of risk and further the development of trade.

The Program includes two projects:

· Creation of the Office for Trade and Investment Promotion, composed of Commercial Information System, Training, and Dissemination

· Development and Promotion of Ecotourism

The total cost of the Program amounts to US$ 1.9 million, of which US$ 1 million is for investments and US$ 900,000 for operating costs.

Institutional Management and Organization Program

Under this Program, management units will be organized to execute the PPCP programs and projects properly. Among their main functions are (1) obtaining and administering funds for each project, (2) maintaining constant coordination with national and international financial institutions and agencies, (3) maintaining coordination with the co-executing institutions involved in each project, and (4) maintaining coordination with the public and private institutions concerned with the socioeconomic development of the PPCP region.

The Program is composed of a single project: Institutional Management and Organization, which has the following components: Coordination and Financing; Operations; Monitoring; and Publications and Other Activities.

The total cost of the Program amounts to US$ 900,000, of which US$ 450,000 is for investments and US$ 450,000 for operating costs, over a period of five years.


The implementation stage of the 14 binational projects has been arranged according to their immediate social impact (improvement of the standard of living), the length of each project, and the coordination of sequences and complementarity between them. The implementation strategy assumes that in the early years, while the binational projects are concentrating on improving social conditions, each country would be carrying out its national projects, especially those dealing with infrastructure (roads, docks, airports, etc), in parallel. This would make it possible to lay the foundations for subsequent productive projects that would lead to the formation of a new sound, well-coordinated production structure in the region with prospects for more trade with the outside.

Thus, in terms of the execution timetable, the binational projects with the highest priority are those in the Infrastructure and Social Development Program: health, environmental sanitation, education, and integral attention to indigenous communities. These are followed by the projects on environmental education and on production (fishing and livestock) and the Environment Program: natural/national parks and integral and sustainable forest management. Implementing the environmental education project would require first that the interagency coordination and organization of information provided for in the Regional Program of Environmental Education for the border areas of Peruvian-Colombian-Brazilian Amazonia be carried out.

The binational projects of the Program for Infrastructure and Social Development can be divided into two groups:

- Group 1: Health and Environmental Sanitation
- Group 2: Integral Attention to Indigenous Communities and Environmental Education
The projects in the first group are aimed at making optimum use of the institutional, human, professional, technical, and material resources available in the region to improve the standard of living. In the second group, the projects are directed toward training of the local people, with programs in environmental sanitation, health, bilingual education for indigenous communities, and environmental education. The work will be done in coordination with the ministries of education and/or other institutions of both countries.

The parallel execution of these four initial projects will enable the Plan to obtain quickly and effectively results that will have a demonstration effect concerning the most appropriate opportunities and mechanisms for collaboration on improving the standard of living of the Amazonian population.

Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanisms

To monitor and evaluate the actions, activities, and execution of the projects, a Unit of Management and Technical Evaluation it will have to be established to give technical and logistical support to the executing organizations of the two countries. It should be composed of professionals and/or technicians representing the agencies executing the projects and of personnel of the present technical units of Colombia and Peru. Its main functions will be the management, monitoring, evaluation, reorientation, and adjustment of activities of the projects, both binational and national.

At the political level the binational coordination of the Development Plan will be carried out through the Joint Committee for Colombian-Peruvian Amazonian Cooperation, with a subcommittee in each country. The five action areas (programs) of the Plan will be coordinated in both countries through the regional and sectoral technical levels and with the support of the Unit of Management and Technical Evaluation.

Viability and Risks

The order of execution proposed for the implementation of the binational projects makes the initiation of the Plan feasible by calling for low investment costs in the early years (years 1 and 2). This is particularly evident for the Infrastructure and Social Development projects, which make great use of existing resources, human and institutional, and have the financial support of the health sectors of Colombia and Peru.

The initial risks appear in the execution of the national projects of both countries, especially those related to economic infrastructure (roads, docks, airfields, electrification of small towns, telecommunications, etc.), which are basic to the execution of the binational production and environmental projects. Another important risk has to do with obtaining funds to execute the projects, for which promotion and financial negotiation are essential.

It is for this reason, to reduce the risks to acceptable levels, that the Plan proposes the creation of management and evaluation units in both Colombia and Peru. These will facilitate the negotiation of financial resources with international organizations and donor agencies, support interagency coordination between the two countries, and monitor and assess the advance of the project. These Units should have adequate political, financial, and technical support from the national agencies and those directly executing the projects, in order to detect problems promptly, investigate and propose solutions, and put them into practice.

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