Bogota Reinforces and Improves its Public Services Infrastructure

February 11, 2016


The new hospital in Bogotá, Colombia

World Bank

Through a multi-faceted approach Bogota made progress towards addressing urban risk reduction. After a 7-year IBRD funded project, the Colombia’s largest city has increased its capacity to manage disaster risks, and reduced its vulnerability in key public buildings (i.e. kindergartens, schools and hospitals). Likewise, 1,067 households (approximately 4,268 people) living in areas subject to landslides were resettled to safer locations with secure housing tenure.


With around 7.7 million inhabitants, and 26 percent of national GDP, the Capital District of Bogota is by far Colombia’s largest concentration of economic activity, yet it is also located in a region prone to earthquakes, floods, and landslides.

Modeling exercises financed during project preparation estimate that a major earthquake occurring in Bogota could result in losses in excess of US$10 billion with serious social and economic repercussions on both human welfare and the national economy.

Although Bogota had already attained important elements of a disaster management system, reducing the city’s exposure to adverse natural events remained challenging.


Based on close collaboration between the Bank and the Government of Bogota, project design emphasized:

  • (i) risk identification and reduction,
  • (ii) nstitutional strengthening,
  • (iii) risk mitigation, and
  • (iv) financial coverage for risk management.

The Government and the Bank built a solid partnership on disaster risk management, which has ensured continuous technical and financial support and close collaboration free from political changes in the District.

The adoption of local environment policies and construction guidelines for all new constructions in Bogota safeguarded the effort on retrofitting and reconstruction of key public infrastructure.

The project represented one of the more innovative experiences in addressing urban risk reduction through a multi-faceted approach. It also represented an opportunity to move away from a focus on emergency, reconstruction and deferred maintenance finance, towards a comprehensive disaster risk management. In particular, this intervention was the first disaster risk management experience at sub-national level in the region.


  • The project effectively reduced the population at risk from 604,000 to 236,972, through the development of risk maps and other studies that enabled the District to identify high-risk areas and prioritize key actions to reduce vulnerability.[1]
  • As a result of the project a total of 344,817 people in public buildings are now safer. This indicator was set based on the number of people exposed to risk in public buildings. Target surpassed by 38%.
  • The number of families living in high risk areas has been reduced. 1,067 households living in the Nueva Esperanza neighborhood were resettled to safer locations with secure housing tenure.  Target surpassed by 53%.
  • By project closing, a total of 18 governmental agencies were incorporated in the Information System for Disaster Prevention and Emergency Response (SIRE), including District Institute of Risk Management and Climate Change (IDIGER) and Local Disaster Risk Management Councils (by neighborhood), among others. Target surpassed by 10 agencies.

[1] Although maps and studies do not reduce risk per se, they were used as inputs to prioritize actions and areas towards the completion of risk reduction and resettlement components.


Before and after of a school in Bogota, Colombia. 

World Bank

Bank Group Contribution

The Bank has been proactively supporting disaster risk management in Colombia since the late 1990s, and in 2005 approved a three-phased program. This was aimed at reducing the State’s fiscal vulnerability to adverse natural events by strengthening national capacity to manage disaster risk and at reducing vulnerability in key municipalities.

Although highly exposed to disasters, Bogota contributes significantly to national income and productivity. At the request of the Government of Colombia, and in support of the second phase of the Disaster Vulnerability Reduction (DVR) Program, IBRD provided US$80 million to Bogota to support the implementation of the project.


The project was characterized by complex implementation arrangements given Bogota’s government structure, which included six sector agencies responsible for the implementation of components/activities. These included the District Secretariat of Health, District Secretariat of Education, the Department of Social Welfare, District Secretariat of Finance, the Fund for Prevention and Emergency Response, and the Social Housing Fund.

The implementing institutions, without exception, have staff with a high level of dedication and professionalism, which has positively benefited project implementation. A sound understanding of the project and a strong commitment to the achievement of its objectives is also worth highlighting.

Moving Forward

The project supported the establishment of a solid basis in the Capital District of Bogota to reduce its vulnerability to natural events, by strengthening its capacity to manage disaster risks.

This project is part of the District’s long-term program to save lives and reduce social, economic, and financial losses resulting from adverse natural events, including earthquakes, floods, and landslides. It is expected that a focus on disaster risk reduction continues through regional initiatives and specific national efforts financed by other agencies and potentially the Bank.

" I have prospered more since I left the neighbourhood. I have been more enthusiastic about my work in order to progress financially, to have a better life. I am very happy to have been relocated. Absolutely. "
Nydya Garcia Sierra – Former resident of Nueva Esperanza neighborhood.

Nydya García Sierra

Former resident of Nueva Esperanza neighborhood


Resettlement area in Bogota, Colombia.

World Bank


Nydya García Sierra – Former resident of Nueva Esperanza neighborhood.

Speaking of her experience in Nueva Esperanza, Ms. Garcia noted: 

“When I moved here, there was no electricity, no water, and little by little the area began to be populated. As more houses were built here the land began to become unstable. Every day we had more landslides. Water used to come through my house, through the bedroom, when it rained as if it were drainage pipe.  Sometimes, when it rained heavily, we would feel scared because we knew that it could cause our house to fall down anytime. Once when we were sleeping and it was raining heavily, the land from the house behind fell on top of us and the planks of our house nearly collapsed under that weight.

I have prospered more since I left the neighbourhood. I have been more enthusiastic about my work in order to progress financially, to have a better life.  I am very happy to have been relocated. Absolutely.”

Overall, the project's direct beneficiaries included:

  1. households in the District of Bogota who benefited from a strengthened disaster risk management framework;
  2. authorities and technical staff of the Bogota’s government benefiting from technical assistance, and improved coordination with DRM agencies; and
  3. disaster risk management agencies, which benefited from an improved governance structure and capacity development.

The project had a major beneficial impact on vulnerable populations, whom are at greater risk of losing their lives, property, and assets in a natural disaster.

people living in areas subject to landslides were resettled to safer locations with secure housing tenure.