Christian Aid

Christian Aid’s essential purpose is to expose the scandal of poverty; to help in practical ways to root it out from the world; and to challenge and change the systems that favour the rich and powerful over the poor and marginalised. We work with people of all faiths and none, and partner

with both secular and faith-based organisations that share our commitment to end poverty in 37 countries. With over 70 years of development and humanitarian experience, Christian Aid plays a context-sensitive brokering role, creating linkages and networks within and between Southern civil society and other development stakeholders.

A key priority for Christian Aid is to contribute to peace building efforts, ensuring access to justice and accountability, and protecting those most at risk of violence and supporting inclusive peace building at all levels. Our involvement with this project is part of our From Violence to Peace programme.

Christian Aid recognises the importance of development actors engaging with difficult issues such as the illicit economy. Our involvement in the project is to build case studies, organise workshops and debates, and work with academia in a sustained effort to develop a deeper understanding of how order and survival evolve in contexts affected by violence, and to find out what development actors could be doing about them.

In November 2015, we published the reportDrugs and Illicit Practices: Assessing Its Impact on Development and Governance”, with case studies on Afghanistan, Mali, Tajikistan, and Colombia. A year later, we held a closed-door workshop in Bamako, Mali to explore problems and potential solutions, and published the report “Challenges in the Sahel: Implications for Peace and Development in Fragile States”. In early 2017, eight Colombian peasant leaders from partner organisations went on a study tour of Bolivian coca-growing areas, to find out what mitigates violence and criminality in coca-producing areas, and to explore the future of coca-growing and coca-growers in a post-conflict Colombia.

Karol Balfe
Head of From Violence to Peace programme

I have been working with Christian Aid Ireland for six years, prior to this I worked for Amnesty International and Oxfam. I am responsible for the strategic development, coordination, management and delivery of Christian Aid’s global peacebuilding work including programme, funding and policy. Our work on peace covers 18 countries working in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Our global peacebuilding strategy is deeply informed by our work in countries across the globe and reflects the aspirations and vision of our local partners. I hold an MA in Globalisation and International Relations from Dublin City University.

My role in this project is to coordinate Christian Aid’s involvement and to bring the specific focus on peace, transition and strategies for supporting local civil society actors to embed work on the illicit economy into their peacebuilding efforts.

I see this project as an opportunity to engage with the issue of the illicit economy, economic justice and peace. We’re excited to be able to do this in Colombia and through our global policy and advocacy work.