Towards co-management of landslide risk in low-income settlements in Medellin, Colombia

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Abstract

Informal settlements are often located on steep hillsides, exposing residents to the hazard of landslides. Measures to address this are often difficult to implement in low-and middle-income countries because of resource implications, but also due to complex socioeconomic, political and institutional processes around informal settlements. Key issues that impact on the capacity to manage risk include differences in perception of risk among stakeholders, lack of opportunity for different types of knowledge (informal/informal, technical/social) to interact in defining risk & risk-mitigation strategies, lack of resources, and differences in stakeholder agendas & balances of power. This paper will present findings from the implementation of a participatory actionresearch project in a pilot community in Comuna 8 of Medellin, Colombia, which has the following objectives: (a) to analyse perceptions of landslide risk among the community and public sector organisations; (b) to pilot participatory monitoring and mitigation approaches in a case study community; and (c) to explore the potential for negotiated strategic landslide risk management. The aim of the project is to identify politically and practically viable approaches to landslide risk-reducing strategies withina wider and complex context of social and physical risk, through the coordinated efforts of community and local state. To date the project has shown that a willing low-income community is capable of bottom-up participatory monitoring of landslide risks, and that relevant local government bodies are willing to engage with this process. The paper will explore how these can form the basis for co-management of landslide risk, with relevance for the governance of other cities facing similar challenges.

Keywords

  • Informal settlements
  • landslide risk

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