Colombia - Colouring the Neighbourhood

For better cities and lives

Colombia has a very serious housing deficiency. Only around 30% of constructions in large cities meet health, seismic and habitability requirements. Improvised homes, generally cut off from Government and private actors’ attention, are built without planning and according to in-come flow, resulting in insecure housing and challenging neighbor relationships.

The CONSTRUYA Project works with homeowner, raising awareness on the risks of informal construction and remodeling. At the same time, it trains contractors and gives them certifications on proper building practices, thereby improving their professional skills and employment opportunities. An additional project is now helping to renovate these neighbourhoods: the freshly painted façades of homes are driving a new and positive attitude among the residents.

The grow­ing phe­nom­e­non how­ever, has re­cently raised the at­ten­tion of some local gov­ern­ments that have de­cided to sum up to Swiss­con­tact’s bet­ter hous­ing ef­forts, in­vest­ing in the im­prove­ment of these pe­riph­eral neigh­bor­hoods in var­i­ous fronts si­mul­ta­ne­ously, for bet­ter pos­i­tive im­pact. It is the case of Bogotá, that through the newly de­vel­oped local gov­ern­ment plan “Mejo­ramiento In­te­gral de Bar­rios” (In­te­gral Neigh­bor­hood Im­prove­ment) has brought about pub­lic, pri­vate and non- gov­ern­men­tal ac­tors to con­tribute, each one through their ex­per­tise, for bet­ter liv­ing in these areas.

The new plan, de­vel­oped by Bogotá Mayor‘s Of­fice, through its en­ti­ties Habi­tat Sec­re­tariat and Caja de Vivienda Pop­u­lar, Swiss­con­tact (through trained man­power for wall cov­er­ing and paint­ing) and the pri­vate en­ter­prises Cemex (through ce­ment do­na­tion) and Orbis Pin­tuco (paint do­na­tion), has re­sulted in new pub­lic areas as well as em­bell­ished houses and land­scapes that have in­creased af­fec­tion and aware­ness for bet­ter hous­ing while en­sur­ing bet­ter re­la­tions with neigh­bors.

The cooperation between public and private organizations has allowed a huge impact: over 3.000 contractors have received training as certified builders. The program has been running since 2011 in major cities like Bogotá or Cali and other cities in Colombia and Latin America are thinking of implementing this Project in low-income areas.

Another important aspect is the work CONSTRUYA does with homeowners. Creating a culture of safe, environmentally friendly and clean living spaces not only affects the life of the families who live inside the construction, but it also has an impact on their neighborhoods and on the cities.

Barrios de Colors is an example of the excellent results from this Project. Various communities like Yomasa, La Fiscala or Danubio along Bogota´s periphery were intervened. The new “barrios” with its colorful facades have meant a drastic improvement in people´s lives and a change of scenery in visitors and inhabitants of these communities who can know look at and walk through a new reality.

Continuing Vocational Education and Training, Labour market insertion
Colombia: Safe, healthy, and sustainable construction in poor neighbourhoods (Construya)
Three quarters of all Colombians reside in cities, many in densely populated and illegally constructed poor neighbourhoods. Many residents have built their homes on their own steam, with little money or experience and without official approvals. The living spaces are often precarious, construction quality is lacking, and the homes are particularly...