Zoom in Details
In partnership with the city of Bogotá and Bloomberg Associates, the Bernard van Leer Foundation supported Crezco con mi barrio in a semi-informal neighbourhood of the city’s periphery.
- Government Agencies Engaged:
- Community Engagement, Education, Health, Parks and Gardens, Transportation, Urban Development
- Implementing Agency:
- Casa de la Infancia, and municipality of Bogotá
- Funding Source:
- Bernard van Leer Foundation
- One neighbourhood. The intervention’s insights are replicated across two sub-districts of Bogotá, adding up to 900 000 inhabitants. Other cities in Colombia, including Cali, Medellín and 9 cities in Antioquia are adapting the intervention. The national institute for family welfare is also spreading the model further across Colombia.
- Implementation action in focus:
- Test and refine
- Bogotá, Colombia
- Ciudad Bolivar, neighbourhood of Bogotá
Summary of Intervention/Programme
Crezco con mi barrio takes place in a semi-informal neighbourhood of the city’s periphery. The area has a high number of disadvantaged families and was confronted to problems of road safety and lack of public spaces.
In partnership with Casa de la Infancia, a regional organisation expert in community engagement and child development, the neighbourhood has been through an extensive community engagement process with the objective of reviving public spaces for families. It has piloted the idea of “children priority zones”, in which several interventions are being tied together with the aim of improving child development outcomes in a comprehensive approach.
Interventions included tactical urbanism such as painting streets to redesign the most dangerous intersections, as well as various community events, art projects and initiatives to temporarily reclaim public spaces from cars. Some of these spaces became permanent parks which are regularly used by preschoolers. The outcomes of the interventions are being evaluated and are showing improved vibrancy of public life.
The city government is replicating the intervention in other locations and other Colombian cities are adapting the model.
What worked well
The community engagement process was extensive and included the involvement of many assets from the neighbourhood. For example, it included local students to organise some of the community activities. The local inhabitants were instrumental in every step of the process, including the design of the intervention, the painting, the organisation of the events and the evaluation.
One small intervention may not have a visible impact on child development or family wellbeing, but a series of several interventions, coordinated in time, concentrated in a specific area, and supporting each other can have a multiplied effect. The area-based approach usually happens at the neighbourhood level and includes a strong community engagement component, like in this project. Focusing on a series of coordinated intervention in the area also allows to integrate different agendas in the community, building support and ownership.
Temporary interventions to modify the design of streets and allocation of space were used to see “what’s possible” and test which would be the best permanent interventions to implement. It is very effective as an engagement tool as anyone can contribute to the temporary intervention. It is important to use the intervention to gather data (before and after) on how the space is used, that will help build the case for more permanent – and costly – changes. It is important to include the municipal teams in the process, because it is necessary to obtain the right authorisations from the various departments involved, but also to support the integration of the new design principles into policy and practices at the city’s technical level.
What didn't work well
Within the community, distrust of local public institutions created resistance from at the beginning of the project. Additionally, inhabitants were at first suspicious of the idea of reclaiming space from garbage, for fear of undesirable uses of the renovated public spaces by substance abusers. There was also resistance from car-owners, which was dissipated upon completion of the project due to the new spaces being very popular with children. The space which used to accommodate 7 cars now acted as a play area for more than 130 children.