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.
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.
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.