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.