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 vulnerable to earthquakes or landslides. According to estimates, roughly 10 million people across the country live in poorly built homes. Swisscontact aims to raise the level of performance of the informal construction market in Colombia by introducing technical solutions and promoting good construction practices, high quality and locally adapted training for construction workers, and raising awareness among homeowners to ensure they demand higher quality construction practices for their homes.
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Bogotá, Columbia
4.710988599999999
-74.072092
Project duration
2019 - 2020
Financed by
  • Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC
  • Hilti Foundation
  • Swiss Re Foundation
  • Donations

The project

The project includes a skills development program in the informal construction sector in Colombia. The project was launched in April 2011 with financial support from the Hilti Foundation and between 2011 and 2018, more than 25,000 construction workers and more than 6,000 homeowners received training. An impact study carried out in 2018 concludes that trained construction workers were able to increase their income by 1,332 Swiss francs (CHF) per year and in 60% of cases they have built safer houses than unskilled workers. At the end of 2018, the training courses were so deeply rooted in the national vocational training institution SENA and in the other two main private partners, Homecenter and Cemex, that they were able to implement the courses independently.

In this final phase of the project, 2019-2020, we are supporting established partners, who are already familiar with these training methods so that they can independently train 6,200 construction workers and 80 new trainers across the country. Swisscontact aims to demonstrate the following elements of systemic change to achieve the desired impact:

  • Scalability: Sustained high performance of construction workers trained in courses provided by existing core partners (SENA, Homecenter, Cemex) and by four new private partners.
  • Behaviour: Construction workers overcome their bad practices, owners closely examine their own homes, trainers understand how to collaborate with informal workers, and companies integrate training into their business strategies.

At the same time, we are supporting four new partners so that they can learn more about the training methods and about coordination with SENA and train 2,000 construction workers (800 of whom are also entrepreneurs) in the cities of Bogotá, Cali and Bucaramanga. The goal is for private and public partners to integrate the courses into their clients' strategies by 2020 and then continue to deliver them independently.

Thanks to the training courses, at least 10,000 homeowners know that they must take structural measures to reduce the vulnerability of their homes to in order to face extreme weather events and earthquakes, and also to improve the use of natural light and have a good ventilation.

Results

Results previous phases (2011-2018)

  • 25 555 construction workers trained in technical issues and 3 998 also in business issues
  • 6 355 homeowners trained and about 400 000 sensitised in safe construction

Results 2019

  • 6 462 construction workers trained in technical issues (5 655 by existing and 807 by new partners)
  • 547 trained workers increased their income by CHF 1 332
  • 290 000 homeowners sensitised (5 116 of them through training courses)
  • 9 224 residents live in safer and more sustainable homes

News

Colombia
26.09.2019
Building a house to reunite a family
Colored houses, several floors on narrow bases, streets full of people walking, commercial stalls announcing offers, walls marked by urban art and curious looks at the stranger who enters the neighborhood. We have arrived to Caracolí, a neighborhood in the district of Ciudad Bolívar in Bogotá.