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ID: 191

Type of submission: Oral

Conference track: Advocacy

Topics: Aboriginal Communities and Harm Reduction; Harm Reduction in Latin America

Presenting author: Kathryn Ledebur

Presenting author biography:

Kathryn Ledebur is the director of Cochabamba-based policy think-tank the Andean Information Network (AIN). She is an expert on international drug policy, human rights, alternative coca and drug control strategies, AIN provides information and analysis and promotes policy dialogue and the development of pragmatic alternatives to traditional drug control initiatives.

Supply Side Harm Reduction: Bolivia's Community Coca Control

Kathryn Ledebur

Community Coca Control: A Viable and Humane Alternative to Forced Eradication.
Kathryn Ledebur
Over wo decades of forced coca eradication in Bolivia, Colombia and Peru have been a demonstrable failure, generating poverty and gross human right violations- without meeting their objective -- reducing the Andean coca crop.
In 2004, the Bolivia government granted the right to grow a cato (1600 square meters) to each registered coca growing family in the Chapare. Policymakers and coca growers jointly agreed upon the size of the coca plot in an effort to provide each family with the equivalent of a monthly minimum wage as income from coca and reduce violence. The Morales administration has continued this policy, and over the past eleven years the coca producer’s unions, government officials and members of the international community have built a complex sustainable coca monitoring, licensing, and reduction system.
Cooperative coca reduction in Bolivia represents an alternative harm–reduction supply-side approach. Traditional US and UN yardsticks to measure progress in coca control -- number of hectares eradication and total coca crop measure by country -- have consistently failed and generated a broad range of collateral damages. This alternative livelihood approach attempts to shift the focus from the control of crops destined to drug production, to the social welfare, human rights and economic stability of coca farming families.

Bolivia’s innovative approach of cooperative coca reduction. The paper will weigh the costs and benefits, the program’s effectiveness as well as the significant challenges to implementation. It will then consider how the program might be applicable in a modified form to other regions growing crops that can be transformed into drugs.