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Ecobarrios in Bogotá: a sustainable alternative to inhabit city edges and develop community risk management from the popular sectors.

The implementation of eco-neighbourhoods contributes to the development of sustainable alternatives to inhabit cities and manage risk.

Photo of Tatiana Ome
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

One of the challenges that we face as humanity, is to develop sustainable alternatives to inhabit the planet. In cities like Bogotá, proposals such as Ecobarrios have been developed, which are considered as alternatives to development and seek to generate new ways of inhabit cities, given the problems of rapid urbanization and change climate. An interesting example of this type of proposal is that of the inhabitants of “El Triángulo” territory in the Eastern Hills of Bogotá, which consists of four informal neighbourhoods: Triángulo Bajo, Triángulo Alto, Manantial and Corinto. In 2009, the dwellers of this territory (most displaced by violence) designed and began to implement an Ecobarrio:"... as a resistance strategy to the eviction and resettlement processes in this area ..." (Héctor, 8/8 / 09). They defined Ecobarrio as: “…a group or community that with a long term vision gets organised in order to improve their quality of life and to achieve their social and environmental welfare in a sustainable urban context…”(Álvarez 2010:15). Over the past 9 years, the development of the Ecobarrio proposal has achieved important milestones in three dimensions: the eco-human, eco-environmental and the eco-nomic one. This through activities such as the construction of decent housing, urban agriculture, recycling, participatory and empowerment processes, conflict resolution, etc. Ecobarrios also promotes community risk management, fostering a dialogue between local and technical knowledge, in order to achieve a concerted decision-making processes among the different actors. This proposal has been strengthened thanks to the support of district institutions, urban social processes, universities and NGO’s. As a working group constituted by inhabitants of these neighbourhoods and academics (from NGO’s), we decided to present Ecobarrios, as we believe in its potential as a sustainable strategy to inhabit cities.With the funding it is expected to strengthen this model of Ecobarrio.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries are +/-320 families made up of children, youth, adults, and seniors between 0 and 75 years, most of them displaced by violence or who have arrived in Bogotá from different rural areas of the country in search of new opportunities. They are vulnerable populations that inhabit informal settlements in the eastern hills of the city. Therefore, they have the basics needs unmet, they have problems with energy, water, transport, infrastructure, health, food, and education.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

In general, the proposals that relate to the development of ecological or sustainable cities come from the government or the private sector. In this case, this Ecobarrio model is unique since it comes from grassroots movements, which inhabit informal neighborhoods, with the aim to achieve a community risk management, among other things. Our group of bridge builders has the unique advantage of being made up of inhabitants of this Ecobarrio and academics, who have been working with them for 9 years, developing, for example, doctoral theses (at University College London) unique in the subject. This allows the existence of trust in relationships, facilitating teamwork and the dialogue between technical and local knowledge. Hence, this ensures the sustainability of the implementation of the project, since there is also an ethnographic knowledge of the territory, which allows having a real understanding of the context and its problems.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

The Erigaie Foundation works to strengthen cultural and environmental processes of local communities, based on a working model that seeks to link grassroots movements, academics and institutional actors. Our team is constituted by Community members: Hector Alvarez, Norma Rodríguez, Gilberto Rozo, Raul Cardenas, Ruben Becerra and Mery Furque. Erigaie Foundation researchers: Tatiana Ome and Alvaro Santoyo. Change the World researchers: Beatriz Arjona and Claudio Madaune.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

In 2009, a large part of the territory El Triángulo was declared as an unmitigable high risk area, hence, many of its inhabitants began to be resettled. For many of the settlers, this way of classifying their territory was not accurate, since according to their local knowledge, there were areas that were not at high risk and could even be relocated there. Therefore, they propose the Ecobarrio as a strategy of resistance to avoid eviction and implement an alternative to inhabit the city edges.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

We consider that our project connects the 3 areas of emphasis of this call. In our case, peace crosses all the scales of our context. First of all, many of the inhabitants of the territory arrived there displaced by violence, they have gone through several conflicts between the neighborhoods, and finally, they are part of a Colombia that is in a post-conflict process. The Ecobarrio as a model, among many things, seeks to promote prosperity for this territory, focused on decent housing, harmonious relationships between humans and nature, in order to generate a better standard of living. Likewise, with this model of Ecobarrio, it seeks to generate a sustainable alternative to inhabit the planet and the cities given phenomena such as climate change and rapid urbanization.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Our working group is constituted by inhabitants of El Triángulo territory, children, young people and adults of different ages; by researchers from the Erigaie Foundation and with the collaboration of members of the NGO Change the World, which has experience in the development of alternatives to inhabit the planet and in processes of empowerment of communities as agents of change. It is important to highlight that one of the researchers from the Erigaie Foundation developed her PhD thesis in development planning, about the Ecobarrios in Bogotá, at University College London. For this reason, she has been working with the inhabitants of Triángulo for 9 years, developing, among other things, participatory mapping workshops with the support of district entities and national and international universities. Thus, as academics, we are supporting this model of Ecobarrio to help the inhabitants to strengthen it through the design, management, and implementation of concrete actions.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The top strengths of El Triángulo community are: the resilience capacity, since they have faced difficult situations that they have overcome from their work, and which is based on their deep knowledge of the territory and the capacity they have of dream with a better future, based on values such as hope. Also, the community work in different spaces for citizen participation (eg. eastern hills round table). We consider these are fundamental factors to guarantee the sustainability of any project.

Geographic Focus

This project is planned for Bogotá - Colombia.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The idea is to develop this project in 36 months, including not only the implementation of specific actions (in terms of infrastructure, training and empowerment of the social capital), but also the elaboration of reports, products, among other things. Something that will be evaluated when the project is implemented is the possibility of including other social processes in the city. This in order to foster an exchange of local knowledge and experiences at the urban level.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Luz Gallo

Hey Ashley, Tatiana Ome , what a great idea. I have worked in these type of community, and this projects sound like the perfect fit for them as most of these inhabitants come from the countryside and have a lot of expertise on agriculture.
I'm curious about the products you are planning on creating after the 36 months phase. What have you thought they can be?

Photo of Tatiana Ome

Luz! thank you very much for your comment! so good to know that you have experience on this! Regarding your question, the people of this area have been thinking about the products they want to have at the end of this stage. They want to improve ecobarrios practices through concrete actions focused, for instance, in activities related to tourism. For example, they want to be trained as tourists guide in order to implement a sustainable tourism in their territory. They have more concrete ideas but also they want to think about it through the process.

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