Strenghtening homes in Colombia

10 million

Colombians live in housing at risk of collapse

In recent years, Colombia has been one of Latin America’s fastest-growing economies. The country enjoyed sustained economic growth and political stability, improved infrastructure and an overall higher level of prosperity. However, more than 10 million Colombians still live in housing that is at risk of collapse should an earthquake, a landslide or a flood strike suddenly.

Construction is often made of inadequate materials, lacking professional design or supervision, and often uses dangerous configurations. Resilience-enhancing ‘retrofits’, especially in the most exposed communities, are limited.

Children looking out over a city (photo)

The social enterprise Build Change developed an easy-to-use, code-compliant retrofit evaluation and implementation procedure in partnership with Colombia’s National Learning Service, Swisscontact and the seismic engineering community in Bogotá.

The Swiss Re Foundation is supporting Build Change in the first phase of a programme in which homeowners, government and the private sector work together to strengthen existing vulnerable homes as former slums continue to develop into vibrant urban neighborhoods.

In this first phase, the project will target 50 home retrofits in Bogotá, impacting around 250 people and laying the necessary groundwork for a more ambitious implementation in a second stage, which will include the city of MedellÍn.