Break a leg! Experiences with Methods of Violence Prevention in Colombia


Which concrete methods can help communities in Colombia in preventing new forms of violence from flaring up? Especially since the 2016 peace agreement with the FARC, this has been a key question for many municipalities. 

Two new Spanish-language publications launched as part of the pilot project "Prevenir primero" (Prevention First) share the experiences that communities in northern Colombia have made with a systemic approach to violence prevention. 

The project is run by the regional administration of Norte de Santander and sees itself as a laboratory for communities to test what measures are helpful for the prevention of violence and can be integrated into regional and local development plans. More than 2,000 people took part in the pilot project in collaboration with 12 government bodies and civil society organisations, jointly identifying risk factors and testing concrete methods. 

The report "El que previene primero previene dos veces" (The one who prevents first, prevents twice) documents these experiences and learning outcomes so that the insights from the project can be applied by other communities. It illustrates the necessary preconditions of systemic violence prevention, concrete steps for implementation as well as practical challenges of participative processes. Key factors for the successful implementation of the systemic approach are institutionalised mechanisms of cooperation, the provision of technical advice, department level and direct cooperation with communities at the local level, as well as knowledge management for learning experiences.

The manual "¡Mucha mierda! Manual de Teatro Foro como herramienta para la prevención de la violencia con enfoque sistémico" (Break a leg! A guide to forum theatre as a tool for systemic violence prevention) presents the communities’ experiences with the method of forum theatre, which is in the tradition of the "Theatre of the Oppressed", a form of popular community-based education that uses theatre as a tool for social change. Accompanying video clips within the guide illustrate the practical experiences of the participants and trainers from Norte de Santander. In this way, those interested can become multipliers themselves and can use interactive theatre methods in conflict transformation and political education.

The Berghof Foundation and Como Consult (Como-Berghof consortium) advise the regional administration of Norte de Santander and two municipalities on the implementation of "Prevenir Primero" within the framework of regional peacebuilding in Colombia.