Build Change commits to develop the capacity of Colombia's Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA) to train the local workforce in retrofitting techniques. SENA is a public entity under the Ministry of Labor in Colombia that offers free training to Colombians to foster the economic, technological and social development of the country. Build Change also commits to developing the capacity of other partner organizations in Colombia to understand and apply housing retrofitting techniques, so they can offer housing retrofitting programs. Build Change has already received interest for this type of program from numerous organizations participating in TECHO's Proyecta Colombia competition in early 2013. SENA and coordinating partner SwissContact will identify partner organization from this pool and from their respective networks.
Build Change will design two targeted Training-of-Trainers courses which will be taught to SENA¸ who will in turn train other implementing organizations identified by SENA and SwissContact. The first course teaches Colombian engineers, architects and construction technicians to conduct seismic evaluations, produce retrofit designs and will provide supervision during retrofitting. The second course trains builders in retrofitting techniques. Build Change will then provide on-the-job training to SENA to develop its capacity to implement training and technical assistance programs for housing retrofitting to other interested implementing organizations identified by SENA and SwissContact. SENA has the potential to scale the program throughout Colombia as they are present in all major cities.
Build Change brings significant support to this partnership; Build Change will contribute its technical resources and training methodology, adapting it to the Colombian context to produce several training manuals. Build Change will also deploy a skilled team of engineers and trainers to provide Training-of-Trainers, support and mentoring to SENA and to partner organizations during a pilot project, expected to last for the first six months of this year-long commitment.
Build Change will launch the commitment on December 15, 2013, beginning with a three-week introductory retrofitting session with SENA. During this time, Build Change will refine its Training-of-Trainers courses to align with the Colombian context, and provide SENA with a broad overview of retrofitting.
Over the course of the following six months (January 2013- June 2013), Build Change will provide Training-of-Trainers to SENA for the technical assistance and builder training modules, teaching them the key technical concepts and mentoring them to be able to independently deliver the same training modules. Build Change will then accompany and support SENA as they conduct their first training session for builders and partner organizations interested in implementing housing retrofitting projects.
During the final six months of the project (June 2013- December 2014), once training is completed, Build Change will gather best practices and lessons learned to determine how the project can be scaled. Initially, the project will train Bogota-based SENA staff, but can be expanded within Bogota and to other urban areas in Colombia, as SENA is present throughout the country. Build Change will also assess whether partner organizations that received training to implement housing retrofit projects need additional support or mentoring.
The Inter-American Development Bank estimates that over 80% of people in Colombia live in disaster-prone areas, and 87% of the country's GDP is made vulnerable from such events and in the past 40 years alone, more than 150 significant natural disasters have struck Colombia, claiming more than 32,000 lives and affecting over 12 million people. Presently, more than 2.5 million Colombians live in sub-standard housing, making them vulnerable to natural disasters, notably earthquakes and hurricanes (SwissContact, 2012). Home improvement is constrained by a number of factors including a lack of capital, poor-quality materials and inadequate construction practices. Most safety upgrades to houses are made post-disaster and are donor-driven; an expensive and not necessarily sustainable approach to overcoming Colombia's safe housing deficit.
In addition, due to the lack of compliance with safety codes, substandard housing is often overcrowded, with unfinished rooms, and floor plans are either outdated or do not meet a family's needs. According to the Center for Urban Development Studies, families living in substandard housing typically have a lower income because they are unable to use housing as a productive asset, either as part of a microenterprise or rental income.
Retrofitting, or structural strengthening, is a cost-effective measure that can quickly increase the stock of safe housing and circumvent the shortcomings of substandard housing. In informal urban neighborhoods that are vulnerable to earthquakes, hurricanes or other natural disasters, retrofitting is a valuable disaster risk reduction tool that allows homeowners to safely upgrade their houses. It also has a multiplier effect in the local economy, as retrofitting uses existing, culturally preferred construction systems which leverage local labor and materials.
This program is ready to scale to the on the job training component, and retrofitting of 30 to 50 houses this year, 500 the next, and 1,000 the following. Build Change is seeking additional financial support to provide the technical assistance to local governments and private sector so that they can scale retrofitting of earthquake vulnerable houses throughout Bogota, Medellin and Cali. At the conclusion of the next 30 to 50 houses, Build Change is seeking media support to spread the word on this program.
Build Change plans to implement similar retrofitting technical assistance programs throughout earthquake-vulnerable Latin America, as an implementing partner, sharer of best practices, and offerer of topic expertise.