and Terry Gibbs
In the context of the ongoing territorial conflict in the Chocó, the mostly Afro-Colombian and indigenous residents of the region struggle on various fronts. The Chocó is Colombia’s poorest and most underdeveloped department with almost 80 percent of the population living in extreme poverty and an illiteracy rate three times the national average. Only four countries—Afghanistan, Angola, Liberia and Sierra Leone—have a higher infant mortality rate than the Chocó, where 125 children out of every 1,000 die before reaching their first birthday. The region’s lack of infrastructure is evidenced by the significant percentage of the population without access to electricity and potable water and the fact that roads are virtually non-existent, leaving rural Chocó almost exclusively dependent on river transportation. In addition to struggling with ongoing problems of health, education, employment and the civil conflict, chocoanos also face one of the highest rates of displacement in the country.