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Project Summary

This collaboration between Comuna 8 Community Board, Medellín’s Municipal Risk Management Department (DAGRD), the National University of Colombia and the Universities of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt, builds on previous and current action-research, which demonstrated the potential of community monitoring and mitigation of landslides risk in the northeast edge of Medellín, Colombia. Co-designed by the above organisations, this project supports the first year of a longer 3-year process whereby an integrated risk management plan for the whole of the NE urban edge of Medellín will be developed. Specifically, this project establishes a partnership of relevant organisations, produces a long-term programme of activities for the preparation of the plan and trains local government technical cadres and community leaders to engage in the process.


The project is based on increasing resilience at the local neighbourhood level and rooted in the importance of citizen participation and dialogue between community, government and academia. The overall goal of this collaboration is to increase knowledge and reduce disaster risk, which will lead to identifying mitigation works and an early warning system. The project builds in the context of Medellin’s Municipality sustainable development strategy and its commitment towards participatory planning, social inclusion and resource dedication to the most vulnerable areas of the city. Therefore, the project is linked to the future Local Development Plan and the Comprehensive Risk Management Plan in Comuna 8. This sector of the city is considered here as a pilot for a future expansion of this strategy to the NE urban edge.


The activities that give shape to the project are based on an initial stage within a wider 3-year programme that will be developed in collaboration with the project partners. This initial stage is aimed towards the establishment of the partnership, its agreed programme of activity, as well as to the creation and consolidation of knowledge and skills. This is structured through the following phases:


  • Preliminary meetings and interviews will encourage the involvement of the Community Planning Council, Local Administration Boards, Housing Boardsand Household Public Services, Local Action Boards, Community Risk Management Committees, local NGOs in the NE urban edge, Administrative Departments of the Mayor's Office of Medellín, organisations linked to SIATA and universities.

  • Joint preparation of the project by a committee of representatives of the above organisations. Workshops will be held for the co-design of the project, including in the process a variety of types of meetings, from executive meetings between representatives of the entities that commit to the project, to participatory workshops with broader participation (including community representation, government and NGOs).

  • Training of administrative and technical cadres in DAGRD and other organisations involved. Workshops on disaster risk co-management will be held with the personnel of the administrative departments of the Mayor's Office that will work in stages two and three of the wider 3-year project, and with representatives of other organisations (state, community, and others). Inputs for these workshops will be the experiences of the projects carried out by the universities and community risk management committees described above, as well as the School of Barrios de Ladera and relevant NGOs.

  • Final evaluation workshop. A final workshop integrating all stakeholders will focus on the evaluation of the research and its impact and will provide a sound platform for the launch of the following research stage which will focus on the implementation of pilot activities and the development of the comprehensive risk management plan.


This project will increase the impact of previous and ongoing research and contribute to reducing disaster risk across self-built low-income areas of North-East Medellin that are exposed to landslide and flash-flood hazards, through coordinating and strengthening local knowledge and co-producing a strategy and action plan based on co-management and shared responsibility, articulating perspectives and generating trust among a range of relevant actors within government, communities and academia. The anticipated outcomes are as follows.


  • Outcome 1: An established partnership involving a range of local government, third sector and community organisations committed to the co-production and development of a risk management plan for NE Medellín.

  • Outcome 2: A co-created programme of activities and interactions towards the preparation of the risk management plan for NE Medellín, including the identification of pilot projects to develop over the next two years.

  • Outcome 3: A number of local government staff and community members trained in the principles of disaster risk co-management. 


Medellín, Colombia


University of Edinburgh

Heriot-Watt University

Departamento Administrativo de Gestión del Riesgo de Desastres - DAGRD

Comuna 8 Community Board

Universidad Nacional de Colombia 

UK Research Team

Dr Soledad Garcia-Ferrari

Dr Harry Smith

Stephanie Crane De Narváez

Colombia Research Team

Francisco Rivera (DAGRD)

Walter Pérez (DAGRD)

Claudia Pelaez (DAGRD)

Carlos Velasquez (Comuna 8 Community Board)

Wilmar Castro

​Mónica Mejía (UNAL)

Funding Body

ESRC Impact Acceleration Grant

Increasing resilience in Medellin's urban edge: co-production strategies towards integrated risk management
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