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Construction Outreach Caldas - Building safely in a bottom-up network

Construction Outreach Caldas (COC) is a small mobile team of design-builders that travel around the region of Caldas to tackle construction-related problems together with the community. COC operates like a cooperative, with members participating and working on construction together with COC team, they enjoy a lower cost of construction because of reduced cost of labor. The vision is to use locally sourced materials and train a network of local builders. Building becomes a community-driven and bottom up action. Immediate concerns include replacement of asbestos roofs, sanitation infrastructure, and building of community buildings in the long run. COC also helps to build and support small local construction enterprise that have the same vision: engaging local community and using local resources.

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Design Workshops
COC work with the community and NGOs to gauge the need of public facilities, where and how to construct them. Getting feedback from the community ensure buy-in and ownership of the design projects.

Construction Workshops
The basis of COC is member participation in the construction process to reduce labor cost of construction using locally available resources and techniques to translate local materials into construction materials (such as compressed earth block and concrete roof tiles). Construction workshop with the community is a key component of the project where team of COC work together on site with the community throughout the construction process.

Technological know-how Transfer and Building Local Enterprises
If the local population likes what they see, they could buy equipments such as Compressed Earth Block Press from COC, and start their own investment as a local micro-enterprise. COC would provide all the techological know-how transfer and ongoing support, but would take a small fee out of the profits of the local enterprise, like a franchise system. By providing support, COC also maintains a sustainable income.

Support network and maintainance of construction standards
By building a network of collaborators and local enterprise in the regional network, COC ensures that safe construction practices are enforced (e.g. No asbestos)

Building Community
Working with the community and discussing design and construction is also a great way to build community over time.

Next step: We need your input!

We are thinking of taking input for the next week and rework the concept base on the input before the end of the concepting phase. Everyone is our collaborator!


How do you envision this idea making money?

Using a cooperative model, input hours of COC members are free of charge, in return, the construction costs are charged to the community with a small profit margin above the cost to cover overhead (but still lower than the cost of contractors). COC also supports local small enterpreneurs that want to start a business in say micro-concrete roof tiles, in that case COC would provide all the technological transfer and equipments with a small fee, like a franchise.

How does this idea create social impact, particularly around improving health?

Maintaining a standard practice of construction through infrastructure improvements (sanitation) and better roof constructions (replacement of abestos).

How does this idea add social value at every step of the process?

Increasing health of the inhabitants through better roof construction, and engaging the community throughout the process from design workshop, construction workshop and building a well informed community about safe and sanitary building practices.

What are the short term steps we could take to implement this idea tomorrow?

Invest in a truck, some building equipments and two knowledgeable design-builders, and on the road they go! Obviously they would need a support network as well, ideally an institution based in the capital with R&D capabilities.

Evaluation results

8 evaluations so far

1. How well do you think this concept considers life in low-income communities?

It is highly relevant to low-income communities - 50%

It is somewhat relevant to low-income communities - 37.5%

It does not significantly consider low-income communities - 12.5%

2. How effectively does this concept use social business principles (that is, it has social benefits for the community but does not pay dividends?)

This concept uses social business principles very well - 57.1%

This concept could be easily modified to incorporate social business elements - 14.3%

This concept does not connect with social business very well - 28.6%

3. How easy would it be to implement this concept?

Easy! This could be started immediately - 0%

It would take some time and planning – but I bet I could see progress in the near future - 100%

This concept would need extensive planning, partnerships & resources in place to get going - 0%

4. To what extent will this concept improve people’s health?

This concept would significantly improve people’s health and wellbeing - 14.3%

This concept seems like it might improve health, although maybe indirectly - 57.1%

This concept doesn’t really have much to do with health - 28.6%

5. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

It rocked my world! - 25%

I liked it but preferred others - 25%

It didn’t get me overly excited - 50%


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