The Alternative Development (AD) policy of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Colombia was developed in 2000 within the context of Plan Colombia. Of the US$869 million originally allocated for the counternarcotics program, US$123.5 million went to USAID in Colombia, and US$42.5 million of the USAID funds were earmarked for alternative development programs in the country.

The purpose was to create legal income and employment opportunities for small farmers through small projects. The funding was conditioned on the eradication of farmers' illicit crops and their commitment not to plant such crops again in the future.

Before examining the key aspects of USAID’s alternative development policy and its implementation throughout these phases, this briefing paper describes the context in which these programs were executed in Colombia. In particular it is important to note that Alternative Development as practised by USAID and the Colombia government was always guided more by security rather than development considerations.

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