December 17 2013

The Transformation of Conflict: Urban Displacement in Colombia

In previous posts I’ve discussed the situation of Colombian cities and a country that after decades of conflict is finally witnessing a resolution to its problems. And for the first time in years, has started talking about a future of development and welfare for all its citizens.

However, many problems can’t be ignored with a façade of growth and hope, especially if one of the main issues confronting Colombian cities has not yet been resolved.

The internal conflict of Colombia, which affected the country for the last forty years, has forced more than four million Colombians to flee from their rural homes. As discussed in my last post, the conflict depopulated the countryside in favor of major cities.

Urban Agriculture in Bogota's slums Colombia

80% of those displaced by the conflict resettled in those cities – for them, they represented the longed-for security of an urban environment, without the violence and forced conscription by the illegal armed groups.

But yet again, the places where these people settle are often the poorest neighborhoods located in steep mountains or coastal areas subjected to flooding.

Those who arrive from the rural zones find difficulties to integrate fully. Unable to practice agriculture, they need to find different ways to support themselves. Sadly, in many cases this leads to a stigmatization of an entire population forced by circumstances to confront a life they are not accustomed to.

That’s why for this new social structure in Colombia we need a process of urban planning that takes these populations into account. Planning is not just about creating proper infrastructure or appearing in international rankings of good urban practices, because in the end, urbanism is about making life in cities better and for Colombia this is imperative for its new urban dwellers.

Bringing agriculture to the cities, in order to give the opportunity for people to live in a similar environment, and live from its produce, is one step forward that our cities are taking.

Integration at urban plazas Bogota Colombia

Creating urban integrated spaces like public sport arenas and plazas for children is another step in the right direction for integrating the victims of the conflict.

Colombian society, in general, needs to re-adapt to its new situation after the conflict, and integrating everyone in our very urbanized country is essential.

In order to confront this challenge, what else would you suggest to urban planners of Colombia?

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

Luis Lozano-Paredes

Luis Lozano-Paredes is currently a student seeking a Diploma of Architecture and Urban Planning at Belgrano University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Born in Colombia in 1987, he grew between the cities of Bogotá and Santiago de Cali, and then moved to Argentina in 2006. There, he finished the Common Basic Cycle of Architecture, Design, and Urbanism at the University of Buenos Aires before pursuing studies in Landscape Design at the same Institution. Inspired by the Urban Transformation of Bogotá in the past decades, his interests evolved from Landscape Architecture to his current passion; Urban Planning, Policy Making, and Sustainable Development. He plans to continue his studies in Urban Planning and Sustainability in Canada, Chile, or the U.S.; but for the moment he currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center of Metropolitan Transport Studies of the University of Buenos Aires and is a Member of the Observatory of Urban Sustainability at Belgrano University. Luis’ main interests lay within the study of Smart Cities, Urban Sustainable Development, and Social Architecture in Latin America.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 at 9:36 am and is filed under Environment, Government/Politics, Social/Demographics, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


One Response to “The Transformation of Conflict: Urban Displacement in Colombia”

  1. Luis Says:

    Answering the questions from Jaideep Gupte

    1)ask why migrants favour major cities, characterised by joblessness
    2)dont over regulate, allow for innovation

    In the case of Colombia (and many countries in Latin America) economic concentration of goods and services is located on cities, jobs lacking in a impoverished country-side are abundant in urban settings.

    But the main reason for this migration is always to access the main services and the ‘quality of life’ that for more people in our countries, cities represent. By quality of life I refer access to sanitation, transportation, electricity which rural areas lack.

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