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SELF-SUSTANAIBLE COMMUNITIES IN MEDELLIN Comuna San Javier, MedellĂ­n, Colombia

1. Project description:. The growing of marginal communities in slums areas of Colombian urban areas is affecting the shape and development of Colombian cities. Most of the populations settled in these areas are IDP’s (Internally Displaced Persons) as described by UNHabitat reports. Our project intends to allow this population to be self-sustainable, cultivating and selling their own products, using organic waste management as fertilizer and energy generator. The impact of this urban agriculture in the urban landscape helps to improve not only alimentary needs but also improves life quality and environmental protection. In this way, the new inhabitants of these territories learn how to integrate with the surrounding communities and be productive in the city. 2. Location


Medellin is the second Colombian city with a population of 3.4 million inhabitants. Is the capital of Antioquia Region north-west Colombia. This city was known at the 80’s as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, due to the increase of the drugs cartels in Colombia. Nevertheless, the city today is a model for social and urban development, awarded this year with the Holcim Golden Award for Urban Planning in America Latina. 3. Background Urban trends in Latinoamerica show that the peripheral areas of the major cities contain most the marginalized population, lacking in most of the cases from the basic needs in housing and access to work and food. Several trends underway will buttress the growth of UA worldwide and in LDCs in particular. Risks and benefits must be addressed through active policy-making and doing. So far, UA development has been assisted largely by actors in urban politics and agricultural policy circles, for poverty alleviation and food security. This measure of support now is insufficient to deal with the growing risks and benefits posed by the expansion of UA in LDCs. A fuller integration of UA into the urban eco-system requires that urban planners, public health and environmental management actors join in with others committed so far. Areas of intervention at the community, city, national and international levels are identified, where more efforts should concentrate relative to recent progress. More needs to be done by actors on the national and internal planes that will help communities and cities to capitalize on their collective experience and to integrate UA into the city organism in a fairer, more viable and sustainable way. 4. Analysis 1. Mapping the problem: For this initial stage of development of the project we elaborate a survey in the pilot area with the collaboration of community leaders from the JAC’s (Juntas de Accion Comunal) collecting information about nutrition habits, economical needs, house areas and typology of the plots. This surveys results and all documentation regarding this process are shown in the Handbook “Solares Ecologicos” (Chapter 2).


After processing the data the survey reveals almost no empty plots of lands available for cultivation (less than 8% of mapping area). Instead the percentage of available cultivation areas and surfaces inside the households was notable high, accounting a 65% percent of available areas for urban agriculture. Therefore, our first prototypes were oriented to green roofs and small plots cultivation.

2. Land Quality Results The quality of the soil in selected areas was measure using test samples from 8 different points in the area. This analysis was realized at La Salle University at the Environmental Departments laboratories. The results are avalible in the Anex 3 at the final report. The data shown by the analysis of the samples prove that the soil in the area was suitable for different kinds of crops (specially maiz, lettuce, tomate and herbs) and the degree of contamination in the plots were relatively low, after a proper treatment with soil adaptation techniques for cultivating crops. 3. Stakeholder Analysis Multiple stakeholders were involved in the process. The city administration cooperates from Corantioquia, (Corporacion Ambiental de Antioquia), who were our partners in the developing of the initial stages of the project, during the surveys and in the training workshops. Also different members from the community (business owners, recycling associations, food buyers and inhabitants) were together with members from the Municipality and Cooperation Agencies (such SIDA and JICA) who contributed with technical support and sustainable strategies to improve living conditions in marginal areas.

Urban agriculture relates to a variety of urban issues, like urban poverty, land use planning, waste management, food security, economic development, public health, and community development. Many stakeholders can be identified who play a role and who (should) have a say in planning and development of urban agriculture and related activities, like input provision, vegetable production, aquaculture, livestock production, processing and marketing. To increase the contribution of urban


agriculture to sustainable urban development requires involvement in planning and policy making of these different stakeholders. Multi-stakeholder processes dealing with urban agriculture are of recent nature. The lessons learned in the International Network of Resource Centers on Urban Agriculture and Food security (RUAF) were of great help to develop out pilot project in San Javier area south-west Medellin, Colombia.

Table 1: Data collection Form A2

5. Implementation Process The project will be realized in three stages, 1. Mapping/ Training Current State: Data collection from the pilot project area already done and results from soil analysis back from the labs. 2. Urban Farms and Waste Management: On-Going Project 3. Cooperative farms network: Preparation of Workshops. 6. Duration The implementation of the project will have duration of 3 years. The initial phases will cover half the time and will be developed in 2 cycles as described in annex 2. At the time we are seeing the first results in the crops at the pilot project area. The adaptation of some strategies is needed as the percentage of production has been rather low and some families withdraw from the project due to different problems.


Target Group Population in the north-west peripheral urban areas of Medellin (Colombia). Special attention will be provided to IDP population and refugees. A full description of sample population can be seen in the Full Report Attach 2. Forced Displacement in Colombia

The process of settlement in the city follow by IDP’s in Colombia reflects the history behind their displacement. Colombia is a country affected by an internal conflict during the last 50 years, as result of that the population of the main cities have been increased in an abnormal rate. The government policies for housing are not strong enough to provide effective solutions for all the people in need of a place to live and carry on with their lives. In order to clarify the criteria that were adopted to manage the information on slums and poverty in Medellin, it is worth establishing the following points: The majority of the slums in Medellin originated in illegal processes of urban subdivision that took place on the peripheral areas of the city. Considering that these processes are dynamic, it must be taken into account that the physical and social conditions that classify them as slums are present only during the first years of the settlement. The indicators used t consider an urban area as a slum freeze the situation of a settlement that evolves every day, in a specific moment. Furthermore, the occupation and development that take place in the illegal urbanization process generate a territory in which individual processes of construction of habitat combine in diverse stages of development, which is reflected in the social conditions of the inhabitants. This reality can hardly be measured and registered using different living conditions measures. The social information that exists about the city refers to the localidades, within which one cannot necessarily find social and urban homogeneity. As such, in a heterogeneous localidad, in which no one group has a clear predominance, the information generated for the localidad as a whole distorts the real conditions of the groups with lower incomes.


7. Environmental Education Strategies

Our project intend to improve alimentary and sanitary needs from marginalized communities south-east Medellin Colombia. The strategy we use to cope this problem is the implementation of “Ecological Plots and Roofs”, together with an environmental education campaign in this areas, allowing these communities to develop an ethical culture of the territory, increasing community participation in environmental and economical enterprises. For this purpose, we published 2 Learning Handbooks called: “Solares Ecologicos” y “Cerros Tutelares de Medellin: Una narración visual a través de sus diferentes escenarios”, distributed among the communities involved and use as a powerful training tool, along with specialized workshops in food growing and preparation.

8. Planned or implemented changes based on experiences gained during the project work Development of better public policies Empowering Communities and Gender Associations Inter institutional cooperation in joint projects. Support and following of processes Improve production techniques to sell surplus Attract more families to the program through subsidize bonus. Development of legal tools to access empty unproductive plots of lands in high-dense communities. Modifications of regulations in the actual POT (Territorial Ordering Plan) Creation of special workshops to prepare new trainers to follow the Urban Agriculture project “Solares Ecologicos”.


9. World Context: The rapid urbanization that is taking place goes together with a rapid increase in urban poverty and urban food insecurity. By 2020 the developing countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America will be home to some 75% of all urban dwellers, and to eight of the anticipated nine mega-cities with populations in excess of 20 million. It is expected that by 2020, 85% of the poor in Latin America, and about 40-45% of the poor in Africa and Asia will be concentrated in towns and cities. Most cities in developing countries have great difficulties to cope with this development and are unable to create sufficient formal employment opportunities for the poor. They also have increasing problems with the disposal of urban wastes and waste water and maintaining air and river water quality. 10. Why Urban Agriculture? Urban agriculture provides a complementary strategy to reduce urban poverty and food insecurity and enhance urban environmental management. Urban agriculture plays an important role in enhancing urban food security since the costs of supplying and distributing food to urban areas based on rural production and imports continue to increase, and do not satisfy the demand, especially of the poorer sectors of the population. Next to food security, urban agriculture contributes to local economic development, poverty alleviation and social inclusion of the urban poor and women in particular, as well as to the greening of the city and the productive reuse of urban wastes. 11. Economic impacts Growing your own food saves household expenditures on food; poor people in poor countries generally spend a substantial part of their income (50 – 70%) on food. Growing the relatively expensive vegetables therefore saves money as well as on bartering of produce. Selling produce (fresh or processed) brings in cash.


Social impacts Urban agriculture may function as an important strategy for poverty alleviation and social integration. We mentioned earlier the positive stimulus it may give to empower women. Several examples exist of municipalities or NGOs that have initiated urban agriculture projects that involve disadvantaged groups such as orphans, disabled people, women, recent immigrants without jobs, or elderly people, with the aim to integrate them more strongly into the urban network and to provide them with a decent livelihood. The participants in the project may feel enriched by the possibility of working constructively, building their community, working together and in addition producing food and other products for consumption and for sale. Contributions to urban ecology Urban agriculture is part of the urban ecological system and can play an important role in the urban environmental management system. Firstly, a growing city will produce more and more wastewater and organic wastes. For most cities the disposal of wastes has become a serious problem. Urban agriculture can help to solve such problems by turning urban wastes into a productive resource. In many cities, local or municipal initiatives exist to collect household waste and organic refuse from vegetable markets and agro-industries in order to produce compost, animal feed or biogas energy. 12. RISK ANAYLISIS -

UNTREATED WATER FOR CULTIVATION RESULTS IN WATER RELATED DISEASES HAZARDS FOR CULTIVATION IN CONTAMINATED LAND FOOD PRODUCTS EXPOSED TO CITY POLLUTION AGRICULTURE/URBANIZATION COMPETING FOR LAND LEGAL RESTRICTIONS LACK OF TENURE SECURITY COMPETITION WITH RURAL AGRICULTURE MONOPOLY OF FOOD DISTRIBUTION DISEASES FOR ORGANIC WASTE IMPROPERLY HANDLE

13. PROGRAM CAN BE FRAMED INTO: -CITIES FARMING FOR THE FUTURE Programme -RUAF From Seed to Table (FSTT) programme -City Farmers Programm -Growing Better Cities: Urban Agriculture for Sustainable Development 14. TYPOLOGY OF URBAN FARMING PLOTS 1. LARGE PLOT OF LAND TO BE CULTIVATED BY THE COMMUNITY 2. MEDIUM SIZE PLOTS FOR SMALL GROUP FARMING 3. INDIVIDUAL BACKYARD PLOTS FOR FAMILY FARMING 4. ROOF FARMING FOR INDIVIDUAL OR FAMILY FARMING


15. Project Schedule so far: The project schedule for the “Solares Ecologicos” program, is now at the Stage 2, where the first two crops have been evaluated and most of field information is now available on Report 2. A sample population of 4370 inhabitants participating in the program, associated in 72 collective cultivated plots or roofs. In this sample are included public schools urban agriculture projects, coordinated by Corantioquia, together with Juntas de Accion Comunal (JAC), families associations and refugees or IDPs associations. The publication of the Methodological Guide to Urban Agriculture called “Solares Ecologicos” was major achievements for the replication of this process in more than 145 other communities, around the metropolitan area of Medellin. Also the support from universities and schools was very important for the development of the project. Most of the information collected was processed with the help of students and teachers from 6 different educative institutions. They support us with laboratories analysis, data sorting and training personal to assist the project in their initial stages. This educative institutions are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Universidad Nacional de Colombia – Campus Medellin Universidad de La Salle – Bogota Corantioquia SENA Universidad de Medellin Colegio Distrital San Javier


16. SOLARES ECOLOGICOS HANDBOOK

Table of Contents 1. Program “Ecological Farm Plots” as an educative Project in Community Environment care. 2. Sustainable Development and Ecology Footprints 3. Conservation and regenerating of soils 4. Solid Organic Waste as Value 5. Plotting the farms: Plots and Roofs 6. Healthy Nutrition Workshops 7. Community Organization and Participation 8. Management for a productive environment. 9. Bibliography 10. Charts and Surveys Index

17. Project Documents The whole document is at the moment only available in Spanish, but the most important parts are translated in this document. We are working for the translation to English of a reduce version of the Handbook, as part of the City Administration project promoting learning of a second language in educative and communal processes. Also the whole report with the data analysis and following of the process and more detail information on outcomes and short comings in the different communities participating in the program is attached here as “Reporte Final UA”. (In Spanish) Final thanks to the supporters of the initial stages of the project in Sweden, Dra. Anita Larsson and Dr. Sixten Larsson from the Blekinge Universität in Karlskrona and Alicia Mannson at Hifab International AB in Stockholm.

18. Annexes: 1. Handbook “Solares Ecologicos: Guia Metodologica” published by Corantioquia and Fundacion Mercurio ONG. 2. Whole Final Report on Spanish – “Reporte Final UA”



Self-sustainable communties: Urban Farming & Waste Management programms in Medellin, Colombia