Translated by Sarah Jane Armstrong & Wyntra Jones within the initiative PerMondo. Sponsored by Mondo Agit, which offers voluntary translations from Spanish into English. Translation proofread by María Garza.
ENVIRONMENTAL OVERSEERS 2013-2014.
IN HIGH RISK ZONES WHICH CANNOT BE MITIGATED
The City Management Plan [el Plan de Ordenamiento] and the Development Plan “Human Bogota 2012-2016” [Bogotá Humana] focuses upon the social and environmental conflicts ofinformal settlements in risk zones. By combining resettlement and adaptation, priority is given to reduce physical vulnerability, ensure the balance of the load on ecosystems and to provide the city with ecological corridors for water connectivity and ecosystemic dynamics that will reduce the consumption of soil, water energy and materials; and minimize the impact on the natural environment.
These planning and development instruments mandate that priority be given to the following sectors known as “Altos de la Estancia” and“Nueva Esperanza”,which haverecurrently faced geological and hydrological stability problems that affect the housing of population groups settled in the areas. Much of this is due to non-planned illegal occupancy practices, characterized by a high rate of physical vulnerability.
The areaknown asAltos de la Estancia, a locality of Cuidad Bolívar, has been affected by compound processes of mass wastingsince 1999, (complex and multiple) generated by the union of factors such as: geological composition and anthropogenic intervention, characterized by the exploitation of old quarry construction materials .Occupyingan area of 73 acres; and given the magnitude of the problem, this sector has become the objective for anongoing district intervention in order to protect the lives of the people settled there.
The Nueva Esperanzasector, in the locality of Rafael Uribe Urbe, is situated in the micro-watershed of the la Hoya del Güira creek, tributary of the Chiguaza brook, borderingthe Diana Turbay, Rincón del Valle and el ParqueEcológicoDistrital de Montaña Entre Nubes (PEDEN), the District ecological park neighborhoods. It sitson the South East border of the Rafael Uribe in the Zonal Planning Unit (UPZ) 55, of Diana Turbaylocality, and occupies an area of approximately 52 acres, 20 acres of which are urbanized.
On November 17, 2004, an emergency situation arose fromthe phenomena known as local mass wasting also affected by the conditions of the area’s housingconstructionandcompoundedby social-environmental issues present in the community.
As a response to the high-risk situation, generated by recent events in various sectors of the Rafael Uribe Uribe and Cuidad Bolívar localities, the District’s Administration declared a district state of emergency. Given the situation, the Administrative Department of District Planning, [el DepartamentoAdministrativo de PlaneaciónDistrital]known todayas the District Planning Secretary, [SecretaríaDistrital de Planeación]issued Resolution 139 inMarch 2005, whichestablished theRafael Uribe locality, Nueva Esperanza sector and Cuidad Bolívar locality, sector Limas Creek, Bogotá D.C.Post Event Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Sustainable Development Plan “
Consequently, since 2008, successive inter-agency agreements have been established with an emphasis to begin a theoretical and practical training process with those residing in the mentioned communities: to transform them into environmental overseers in their community.In this manner, a commitment is made to territorial reconstruction and to the social fabric of these communities; as it strengthens the local capacity to understand and manage the risk, whichover time,guarantees visible and sustainable results.
In 2012, ECOFONDO, the District Secretary for the Environment [la SecretaríaDistrital de Ambiente], whoseinitials areknown as the SDA, and the Fund for Emergency Prevention and Response, known as the FOPAE, [el Fondo de Prevención yAtención de Emergencias]entered into a partnership agreement to carry out the necessary activities for environmental management of these areas. Given the positive results achieved from the contract, the District Secretary for the Environment (the SDA) and the ECOFONDOCorporationbothsigned a new partnership agreement in 2013 with an emphasisto continue the process in both localities.
Agreement objective for 2013.
The agreement wasgeared towards the training of the population bordering the zones declared asunmitigated high-risk, in state of vulnerability, for the purpose of building social capital, favoringawareness of the importance of contributing as a citizen to the conservation of the environment and exercising a positive influence on others, by preventing and minimizingenvironmental issues.
The processwas developed into two stages, which were conducted simultaneously.
The theoretical training stage
The practical training stage
THEORETICAL TRAINING STAGE
This stage was developed through the implementation of three training modules.
Module I - Psychosocial support
Module II - Environment
Module III –Risk Management
Psychosocial support module
Objective.To promote thestrengthening ofthe emotional, relational and ethical capacitiesof Nueva Esperanza’s and Ciudad Bolívar’steams of environmental overseers.
The topics addressed were as follows:
Identify areas of my life in which I must readdress relationshippatterns
A return to my life plan:re-define goals, rethink plans of action, recognize achievements and identify challenges.
Strengthen my teamwork skills.
Support of coaching methodology
To recognize myself as part of a collective.
Development of own leadership within the collective.
The celebration ofprogress made.
The psychosocialprocess was designed forthe development and strengthening of personal and social resources, which allows the groups of overseersto confront and learn about(from a generative standpoint)the internal and external difficultiesthat present themselves daily.
Objective. Contribute to the environmental training of the overseersin the Partnership Agreement 0956 from 2013 in order to improve the establishedmanagement in the Nueva Esperanza sector (in the locality of Rafeal Uribe Uribe) and in Altos de la Estanciain the locality of Ciudad Bolívar.
The topics addressedwere as follows:
Definition and concepts of land
Definition of risks and threat to environmental land management.
Identification of risks and threats to environmental land management.
Definition and concepts of zoning.
Identification of homogenous areas of coverage.
Definition of management strategies for an environmental area
Identification of management strategies for an environmental area
Zoning for environmental management. The basics: what land is and what it consists of (biophysical and sociocultural aspects)
Through the workshops, the collective development of concepts was achieved based on the knowledge of the environmental overseers and using the biophysical and sociocultural context of the intervention zones.
Through establishedgroup dynamics, the groups exchanged knowledge and experiences and developed analysis and resolution abilities regarding environmental problems.
Environmental problems were addressed from the social perception of the overseers,in such a way that the biophysical and socio-cultural characteristicswere identified,landusageand similarly the forms of management and methodsof conservation of the ecosystems.
Each group drew upa social mapping of their zone, identifying the social, natural and cultural aspects.
The location of risks and threats were drawn up in the social mapping.
Reflexive exercises on how to avoid risks and threats.
Learning techniques on how to devise environmental zoning.
Discussion and reflection on the environmental management of the problems identified in each zone.
Risk Management module.
Objective. To conducta training process in integral risk management, aimed at the environmental overseers, with a view to favorthe implementationof activity in the territory from within the community. Thisthen allows the community to comprehend the risk asprimarily a social phenomenon and consequently, as a matter of common concern.
The topics addressed were as follows:
Definition of the District System for Emergency Prevention and Response [SistemaDistrital de Prevención y Atención de Emergencias].
Basic concepts: event, threat, vulnerability, risk, alert, emergency.
Achievements: In the workshops, the environmental overseersresponded to the following questions:
What types of risk managementproceduresdo youdevelop in your personal life? At home / during the training process.
How do theprocessesdescribed contribute to a better quality of life for you and your family?
Which strategies have you employed to accomplish risk management on a personal level?
Whichtypes of risk management processesdo you develop in your personal life?
Other training activities.
Environmental fieldtrips. The following fieldtrips were conducted:
Parque Natural Chicaque. [Natural Park Chicaque]Situated 45 minutes from Bogotá via the Mondoñedoexit. Three routes were conducted: “Pico de Águila”, “Bosque de Robles” y “el Roquedal”. During the different routes, the guides explained the characteristics of the region’s flora and fauna and the importance of the ecosystems; they also responded to overseers’ questions.
Nueva Esperanza. Both groups of overseers exchangedtheir experiences. This was an opportunity for the overseers from Altos de la Estancia to visit the overseers from Nueva Esperanza and togetherwalk the intervention zone. During the route, the host overseers explained the existing ecosystems in the area and how they have been able to environmentally restore the land.
ParquelosTunos. Situated 40 minutes from Bogotá, throughtheroad that takes you to Salto del Tequendama. During the walk, native vegetation of the lower montane forest and the native species such as “Palma Boba”, “Helechos” [bracken], “Arboloco”, “Yarumos”, “Tunos”was observed. Throughout the walk, guides accompanied the overseers and explained the characteristics of the region’s flora and fauna and answered overseers’ questions.
PRACTICAL TRAINING STAGE
The results obtained for each one of the components can be seen below:
POPULATION AWARENESS-RAISING BY ENVIRONMENTAL OVERSEERS IN THEBORDERING ESTATES.13 awareness days were carried out: 2 in the Nueva Esperanzasector and 11 in Altos de la Estancia. As a result, it is important to highlightthat the volume of trashwasreduced and that a greater awareness of waste handling is evident.
COLLECTION AND PLANTING OF ORGANIC WASTE.23.8 tons of wastewasdisposed of. Planting was carried out in batches through theCaja de Vivienda Popular[an organization ran by the local authorities for the improvement of housing and community], situated in neighborhoods of Santo Domingo and Santa Bibianain the localityofCuidad Bolívar.
AWARENESS-RAISING BY ENVIRONMENTAL OVERSEERS INTHE NEIGHBOURING STUDENT POPULATIONS. 31awareness-raising days, 4 in Nueva Esperanza and 27 in Altos de La Estancia.During thesesessions, the following information was covered: the role of the environmental overseers, activities they perform andeach one of the sectors’ social, economic and cultural issues.
LANDADAPTATION. Activities aimed atlandadaptation havereaped the following benefits:
Upon sealing the agreement, 311 tons of waste and 29 tons of debriswere removed from the land, significantly reducing the contamination of protected areas and of the creeks’ surroundings.
Through the installation and maintenance of enclosures, newoccupanciescould be avoided and the protection of the zones’ ecosystemsmanaged.
Destabilization of the terrain was avoided andlandslidespreventedbyclosing off 58 hosepipes.
ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION FOR PREVENTION AND MITIGATION. Some of the results were as follows:
Elimination and substitution of exotic species: 2,156 individuals.
Construction of trenches: 14
Construction of ravinesfor adequate water management: 3,610 linear meters
Cleaning of ravines: 21,269 linear meters
Cleaning of channels: 13,300 linear meters
Cleaning of creeks: 9.500 linear meters
Sewage cleaning: 55 units
Construction of fascines along contours: 400 linear meters
The actions mentioned aboveresulted in risk prevention and mitigation through water management; (ravines, channels, streams, sewers)moreover, thanks to the construction of contour trenches and fascines, landslides were avoided.
MAINTENANCE OF VEGETATION COVER. The majority ofthe maintenance activities for vegetation cover were carried out in Nueva Esperanza, as the ecological restoration process is older than that ofAltos de la Estancia; the restoration processes are more advanced. Therefore, this implies that activities are aimed at the maintenance of trees. On the other hand, due to the erosive processes, presented in Altos de Estancia, it wasdecided to continue with the procedures of transforming the terrain into meadows. (Re-vegetation)This process occupies an area of 1.7 acres.
ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION. 13,220 individuals were eradicated from Bejuco Colorado inNueva Esperanza, due to the negative impact generated on the native vegetation. Additionally, specific restoration activities were carried out in the surroundings of La Guairita creek across two acres.
In the case ofAltos de la Estancia, a zone of little vegetation, emphasis was given to ecological restoration in thecreeks’ surroundings. In total, the restoration process was initiated across two acres. The main activities were as follows:
18 hubswere implemented in the hydraulic corridor of the Santa Rita and Santa Domingo Creek, providing the plantation of 1033 plants.
27 hubs were implemented in concentric circles and distributed as follows: 6 hubs in the hydraulic corridor of Santa Domingo Creek, which provided for the plantation of 180 trees; 15 hubs in the hydrologicalcorridor in the Santa Rita creek, which provided for the plantingof 412 trees; finally 6 in the La Carbonera creekhydrological corridor, which provided for the plantingof 180 trees.
8 vegetation hubs were implemented and distributed along the contour lines: 4 of which were implemented in the hydrological corridor of the Santa Rita creek, which provided theplanting of 60 trees. 4 others were put in the hydrologicalcorridor of La Carbonera creek, which provided for the planting of 60 trees.
The activities involved in landscape restoration primarilyinvolved land appropriation by the communities sinceon the one hand, they participate in the process; and on the other, they use the area for recreation and use.In addition, building footpathshas allowed forenvironmental protection in the neighboring zones. It is important to highlight that garbage containers have been erected as an initiative of each of one the groups. In total, 6 flowerbeds were built, 10 garbage containers assembled and 376,6 linear meters of footpaths built.Also,28 flowerbedswere maintained as a part of this process.
Antes y después de la construcción del sendero en Nueva Esperanza.
SURVEILANCE OF ILLEGAL OCCUPANCY.
The constant walkthroughsof the areaavoided new occupancies, as adequate warningwas given to the respective authorities, which enabled themto promptly evict new invaders. 9 occupancies were presented in total: 1 in the Nueva Esperanza area and 8 in the area of Altos de la Estancia.Aphenomenon to behighlightedhere is the expansion of the housing already in place. (18 in total)
COMMUNAL VEGETABLE GARDENS. Two types of gardens are distinguished in this activity: the communal gardens and the gardens belonging to the zone in question. The communal gardens belong to the communities and receive support and maintenance from the overseers ofAltos de la Estancia; and the second type are used to produce seeds and vegetable materials necessary for the ecological recovery of the zone. (Nueva Esperanza). 87 walks to support the gardens’ maintenance weretaken and 1,750 seedlings were produced in the nursery of Nueva Esperanza’s overseers.
SUPPORT FOR EMERGENCY ATTENTION. The removal of spiny broom was carried out in Nueva Esperanza as a measure for mitigating forest fires.Similarly, both groups of overseers helped towards the control of fire outbreaks in their zones. In total they helped towards the control of 26 outbreaks: 11 of these inNueva Esperanza and 15 inAltos de la Estancia.
CLOSING EVENT. On September 5th2014, the closing ceremony was carried out wherethe two groups of environmental overseersreceivedtheir certificates for the training process.