The colombian peace process as a challenge of capabilities enhancement. evidence from “el sirirí”

Guarin-Leon, Sergio; Tovar-Samaca, Paulo (2018). 'The Colombian Peace Process as a Challenge of Capabilities Enhancement. Evidence from “El Sirirí"' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2018.


With the financial support of Ford Foundation, and the collaboration of a regional network of CSOs and Universities in different regions in Colombia, Fundación ideas para la Paz ( (FIP) has developed a methodology named “El Sirirí”, for the measurement and critical assessment of participatory processes, where civil society and public authorities meet.

“El Sirirí”, which shares the name of a little bird widely known in Colombia for its insistency and courage, analyzes information about the quality and the effectiveness of citizen participation organized in 28 indicators[1]. Local CSOs and regional Universities have been trained as "observers", and, using the methodology, they are now the "Participation Siriri". 

To the date, more than fifty (50) measurements and discussions have been made using “El Sirirí” in different geographic areas in Colombia. Most of this citizen effort has been focused on participatory processes included in the peace building agenda designed in the peace agreement between Colombian Government and FARC guerrilla. Various councils for victims, and some participative spaces of regional planning and peace have received public policy proposals and recommendations after a deliberative consideration trough “El Sirirí”.

In particular, between late 2017 and early 2018 the network analyzed a set of community assemblies ran as part of the “Development Programs with Territorial Approach” – PDET (in Spanish), a key participatory process aimed to develop people's consensus about public goods in the municipalities highly affected by the armed conflict. These exercises are guided in 16 regions by a National Office (“Agencia para la Renovación del Territorio” - ART) in a bottom-up route.

They begin with community assemblies where local inhabitants present their needs and proposals about those public goods and the role of CSO in this provision. Later, delegates of these assemblies and other sectors establish committees by municipalities, and finally members of these committees meet in regional reunions. The result of the process should be 16 action plans for territory transformation in 10 years. 

The “Sirirí’s” regional network measured 10 assemblies in four different regions of the country. Results are bittersweet: despite the effort to reach the excluded areas, and the good reception of the initiative, the indicators show that outcomes of the assemblies tend to be general statements rather than concrete initiatives. These results decrease the probabilities of the process to produce reliable and robust action plans. In addition, the ART is not promoting enough articulation and institutional support for the PDET initiative to continue in the long term.

In FIP, we think that results of “El Sirirí” can be used not only to monitor the progress in the implementation of the peace agreement, but also in reflecting issues related with the state of the community capabilities and its willingness to collective action. From our perspective, there are strong links between peacebuilding, citizen participation and collective action, in particular because participative exercises require the community to move collectively to achieve (even to identify) joint goals.

In some sense, “El Sirirí” could be a quantitative glimpse of three questions: What kind of functionings are the communities asking for in the participatory assemblies? Could these assemblies trigger community capabilities? Finally, to what extent are the PDET participatory process driving people to act collectively rather than individually? Our paper address these three questions and propose a way to conceive the local peace as a capability strengthening process in the Sen and Nussbaum sense.

We believe  a presentation is aligned with the following HDCA conference 2018 topics and themes: “Territorial equity and justice”, “Methodological issues in operationalizing the capability approach” and “Democrary and participation”

[1] This information is gathered through a survey, the direct observation of the participatory process, and interview to its responsible.


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