Building the Invisible – Altos de La Florida, Colombia
The community of Altos de la Florida is located southwest of the municipality of Suacha (or Soacha), on the outskirts of Bogotá. It is estimated that 30 percent of the roughly 2,400 habitants live in a situation of forced displacement caused by the ongoing fighting between various armed groups in the country. According to UNHCR in Colombia more than 7.4 million people are affected, making it the country with by far the largest internally displaced population in the world. The agency refers to it as Colombia’s “Invisible Crisis.”
Despite the peace agreement signed between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), forced displacement is still growing in Colombia. Particularly on the Pacific coast, new armed groups are starting a fresh cycle of criminal violence.
Besides being at high risk of landslides, in Altos de la Florida basic services such as water, sewerage, basic sanitation, decent housing and health care are absent. Their economic, social and cultural rights are being violated due to insufficient support from the government. The population relies on itself through communal administration and direct actions undertaken by NGOs.
The main objectives are to build emergency housing and to generate sources of employment for the various groups living in poverty. Due to the stigma of living in these area, the labour situation for residents is critical.
Blanca and Ramiro left La Belleza, Santander (northeast Colombia) for a life in the city when the economic situation in the countryside became unbearable. Together with their two children, they have been living in “Altos” for seven years.