In a nutshell

Location Colombia
Sustainable Development Goal Climate Action

Project timeline 

"Project is 100% completed "

The Challenge

Over 50 years, armed conflict in Colombia drove more than 6 million people to give up their homes and land and to migrate to unplanned settlements in the country’s urban areas. About two-thirds of all residential units created since then have never been approved by the responsible authorities. As a result, more than 10 million of the country’s 48 million people live in inadequate living conditions. Unplanned settlements are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. Although there are national targets to make residential construction more resilient, efforts to do so focus mostly on building new units at the expense of improving existing ones.

The Approach

Taking a pragmatic approach to a sensitive issue with the support of diverse local stakeholders, Swisscontact aims to intervene in the informal construction market of Colombia’s capital city, Bogota, and in three other important cities (Bucaramanga, Cali and Pereira) in two ways. First, it will raise demand for sound construction among homeowners by running awareness campaigns and by improving access to home improvement financing and subsidies. Second, it will increase the supply of qualified construction workers by offering vocational education and training in entrepreneurship. Additionally, actors from the private sector, namely building materials retailers get involved and act as multipliers for awareness raising and quality construction practises.

Goals and Expected Impact

With this two-fold strategy, the project seeks to improve the living conditions and natural disaster vulnerability of around 18 000 people in dwellings in unplanned settlements in the intervention areas. The proximal aims are to increase the quality of the informal construction sector, to introduce new technical solutions and to promote good practices in construction.

During the project, at least 40 vocational education and training instructors will be trained, and about 3 900 construction workers will participate in the tailored vocational education and entrepreneurship training offered. Participating construction workers are expected to increase their income by gaining new qualifications that make them more competitive in the market and by operating their businesses more profitably.

Swisscontact will share the training concepts developed in the project with public education institutes and private building material providers to use and keep offering long term.


The copyright for all images displayed lies with Swisscontact

Our partner

Swisscontact is a business-oriented foundation for international development cooperation. Working in 34 countries with over 1 200 team members, Swisscontact has been fostering economic, social and environmental development since 1959.

Related content