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Slum Upgrading and Risk Reduction: A Case Study of Colombian Cities

Carter, Jacqueline (2017)
Master's Thesis (70 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Adviser: Andes, Karen
Committee Members:
Research Fields: Public health
Partnering Agencies: Does not apply (no collaborating organization)
Keywords: urban planning; risk reduction; slums; Colombia
Program: Rollins School of Public Health, Hubert Department of Global Health
Permanent url:


Background: The Latin America and the Caribbean region has nine of the world's top 20 countries that are most exposed to disasters, making the region the most disaster prone in the world. The region is farther characterized by the amount of people living in urban centers that continue to grow rapidly. As the cities continue to grow so do the socio-economic inequalities and the formation of informal settlements on the peripheries of the cities. Informal settlements or ‘slums' typically form on land that is uninhabitable and unstable and lack access to basic services and government involvement. This makes them particularly vulnerable to natural disasters.
Methods: Case studies of 4 Colombian cities were chosen as the method to explore potential mitigation strategies for slum communities in the event of a natural disaster. Colombia was chosen because it is widely considered a leader in disaster risk management in urban settings in Latin America 5 cities in Colombia were chosen to display work being done to manage risks to natural disasters: Bogota, Cali, Manizales and Medellin. Similar information was gathered for each city in order to present the city in context. Based on findings, a set of recommendations was made in order to show case common things for each of the cities that proved to make their strategies more effective.
Results: Bogota, Cali, Manizales, and Medellin have made significant steps to reduce the vulnerability to natural disasters in urban settings. Key stakeholders have included the national and local governments, community members, and non-governmental organizations. Strategies have included holistic approaches that address more than just the infrastructure of the informal settlements, with an aim at addressing some of the root causes.
Discussion: One of the main things that makes Colombia unique in their risk reduction strategies has been the countries' ability to make decisions at the national level and put them in motion to the point where they are being carried out at the local level. While there is no one solution, effective strategies for reducing risks in informal settlements were found to be similar to those of development strategies: reducing vulnerability and increasing resiliency. Multi-level involvement, holistic approaches, community participation, and investment contributed to the effectiveness of the strategies.

Table of Contents

Definition of Terms
Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Rationale

1.2 Problem Statement

1.3 Project Purpose

1.4 Significance Statement

Chapter 2: Literature Review

2.1 Natural Disasters

2.2 Latin America and Caribbean and Natural Disasters

2.3 Urbanization in Latin America

2.4 Slums

2.5 Risk Reduction

2.6 Risk Reduction in Slums

Chapter 3: Methods
3.1 Research Design
3.2 Limitations

Chapter 4: Results- Case Studies
4.1 Bogotoa
4.2 Cali
4.3 Manizales
4.4 Medellin
Chapter 5: Discussion


Access restricted until 2019-06-12

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