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22- 1 SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOOD IN LATIN AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN URBAN

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					    SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOOD IN LATIN AMERICA AND                                   resilience1 (1) factors (endurance ability) have been identified in every
      CARIBBEAN URBAN INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS.                                       one of them.
        VULNERABILITY, THREATS AND HAZARDS                                               This work is part of the CIB-TG-40 research project on
                                                                                  Understanding the interface between the environment and sustainable
      Liana Arrieta de Bustillos, Jose Bujanda, Malvina Torbay and Mireya Smith   livelihoods in the integration of informal settlements in Asia, Latin
Housing School Association
Centroccidental University Lisandro Alvarado
                                                                                  America and Africa: A review of current thinking and practices.
Barquisimeto, Venezuela. South America                                                   –––-
CIB Task Group TG 40
lianabustillos2002@ hotmail.com
Phone 0058416464568027. Fax. 0058 251 2370691.


Abstract
According to the Inter American Development Bank (BID) and the
Comisiòn Econòmica para Amèrica Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), 150
million people, or one out of every three inhabitants of Latin America
and the Caribbean, are exposed to natural catastrophes. Between the
years 1900 and 1989, this region confronted an average of 10,8 disasters
per year and, during the 1990-1998 periods, this figure increased to 35,7
per year. In addition, it is currently estimated that 95% of natural
disaster victims are located in developing countries, which are mostly
characterised by conditions of poverty, and the high physical and social
vulnerability of those regions’ informal settlement inhabitants, estimated
at 142 million people.
       Although informal settlement characterisation has been certainly
fully investigated in the majority of our countries, there is still no good
explanation of how these people manage to live in such terrible
conditions of poverty and high vulnerability. Considering the above-
mentioned elements, the purpose of this work is to identify the different
types and levels of physical and psychosocial vulnerability within which
slum inhabitants live in the cities of Latin America and the Caribbean. It
will also try to identify some sustainable livelihood techniques developed
by the inhabitants in order to survive under such circumstances, and the
risks they confront every day. The research group has identified the cases        1
                                                                                    Resilience is the ability of reacting and recovering in the face of adversity – the group
presented as some of the most appropriate Latin American cases for                of qualities or factors that promote endurance and stability, in spite of the risks and
analysis under the “Sustainable Livelihood” heading. In addition,                 threats (Galeano Eduardo, 2000).
 2.2-                                    1                                        2.2-                                            2
1.     Introduction                                                            continent, the inhabitants’ socio-economic conditions in informal urban
                                                                               settlements, and the types of hazards and disasters which predominantly
Latin America and the Caribbean                                                occur in these types of settlements.
region comprises 42 developing                                                        Also, some “Sustainable livelihood” cases are presented. They
countries     and    351      million                                          have been chosen because they show some characteristics and aspects of
inhabitants. The major part of the                                             resilience or capacity for endurance that enable those communities to
urban areas are characterised by                                               resist or overcome adversity.
spontaneous urban growth or                                                           This work is part of the CIB (International Council for Research
“barrios de chabola”, which is                                                 and Innovation in Building Construction)-TG-40 group project:
considered as the more important                                               “Understanding the interface between the environment and sustainable
and dynamic adoption of urban                                                  livelihoods in the integration of informal settlements in Asia, Latin
space, not only of this region but                                             America and Africa: A review of current thinking and practice” financed
of the entire planet. This kind of                                             by the CIB and sponsored by “Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro
growth tends to be permanent and                                               Alvarado” (UCLA) Venezuela The information reported support from
represent a very important element                                             World Bank (WB) records, CEPAL, UNCH and BID among others.
of    contemporary       cities    in
developing countries.
      In this region, population                                               2.   The problem
explosion, and the concentration
of population in cities and “barrios                                           The first reality associated with informal settlements is the poverty levels
de ranchos”, constitute the main                                               within which their inhabitants live, and the social exclusion to which they
characteristics      of       human                                            are subjected as a consequence of, among other factors, a lack of
settlements over the past 70 years.               Figure 1: American Map       sufficient income to satisfy their basic needs, as well as the need for
For example, according to the                                                  landownership, which classifies them as squatters, hence as violators of
1990 demographic census in Venezuela, more than 61% of the urban               the law. The tough reality in which more than 140 million inhabitants
population lives in these “barrios de ranchos”, which means that 11            live in these city sectors is evident (BID, 1999), where hunger,
million people occupied 140 000 hectares. In the same vein, higher             insalubrity and unemployment predominate, as well as marginality in
proportions than 50% have been registered in other cities. As a                infrastructural and other urban services such as education, health and
consequence, it is evident that the “barrios” or “neighbourhoods”              transportation. Many attempts have been made in Latin America by the
constitute a major part of Latin-American cities.                              governments of the day to help solve this problem, the consequence of
      This work has approached the existing problems in these kinds of         inadequate answers to explosive urban population growth and the
settlements from different points of view: firstly from that of the physical   migration from rural to urban areas. However, many of these attempts
and psychological vulnerability of inhabitants of these settlements in         have failed and been understood as false proselytising efforts.
Latin America and the Caribbean; and secondly in terms of the types of               The second reality is the conditions of physical insecurity and
sustainable livelihood they have adopted in order to overcome poverty.         vulnerability to natural threats and risks under which these inhabitants
Therefore, the purpose of this work is to present a global vision of this      live, and the escalating numbers of disasters in the past decades. For
 2.2-                                   3                                       2.2-                                   4
example, according to information from BID and CEPAL, 150 million               to satisfy physical needs, or to reach one’s objectives of participation in
people, or one in every three inhabitants in Latin America and the              community life and have an influence in decision making.
Caribbean is exposed to natural catastrophes, excluding those caused by                In the late nineties, six out of every ten poor people lived in urban
man. Between 1900 and 1989 this region has experienced an average of            zones; this typifies Latin America as the developing region that depicts
10,8 disasters per year, increasing to 35,7 in 1990 to 1998. In all, 95% of     the global process of poverty urbanisation (in contrast with Asia and
natural disaster victims live in developing countries, owing mostly to          Africa, where the major part of the poor still live in rural environments).
their poverty. In Latin America, where such cases predominate, it can be        Now, this does not mean that that rural poverty is more serious than that
inferred that these sectors are the most affected. Hence, it is necessary to    amongst the inhabitants of urban environments. According to BID
answer the following question: what are the resilience (endurance               estimates, between 32% and 35% of the population of Latin America and
capacity) mechanisms they have developed to strengthen their resistance         the Caribbean lives on less than US$2 a day (in terms of buying power).
to threats from natural disasters or man? This information is necessary if      More extreme information was obtained from a recent study carried out
we are to try to decrease the extent of vulnerability, from both a physical     by the Universidad Católica Andrès Bello in Venezuela. This study
and psychosocial point of view. For this purpose, the CIB’s TG 40               registers an amount of $1 daily as the only subsistence income for the
research group on informal settlements initiated the research project that      poorest Venezuelan inhabitants (UCAB 2002). Even though in the 1990s
outlines this work, in order to identify the levels of physical and             the extent of poverty (measured according to poverty-line criteria)
psychosocial vulnerability, hazard and threat under which inhabitants of        decreased, the number of poor people increased, and the proportion of
these Latin American and Caribbean settlements live, and the                    indigents continued to be the highest since the eighties.
experiences or sustainable livelihoods developed in these                              As reflected in the following chart, Honduras and Nicaragua reflect
neighbourhoods by their inhabitants, to help them survive the exclusion,        the highest percentage of poverty and indigence. Honduras has 74%
the hazards and the threats with which they live. This is the main purpose      living in poverty, of which almost 51% are indigents, while Nicaragua
of this project.                                                                has 65% living in poverty, with 40% in indigent conditions. Haiti is one
                                                                                of the countries that present the worst impoverished conditions in the
                                                                                region. In 1967, 48% of the Haitian population was poor; in 1980 the
3. Characterisation of informal settlements in Latin                            proportion was 68% and, in 1984, four years later, it surpassed 80%. It
   America and Caribbean socio-economic characteristics                         almost doubled in less than ten years. Meanwhile, some four thousand
                                                                                Haitian families had annual incomes of $90 000 or more, but the average
Commonly, poverty has been evaluated based on relative criteria of              annual income was $300 per capita. It is obvious that there is a big
income or consumption, meaning that poverty refers to people whose per          difference in the distribution of wealth (Galindo Lucia, 2001).
capita income is not sufficient to finance the cost of elemental normal                Latin America, in general, has 35% living in poverty, with urban
expenditure.                                                                    poverty close to 30%, 14% indigent and 9% in urban zones.
      However, when poor people are asked what poverty means to
them; income is only one of the aspects they distinguish, since they also
express feelings of insecurity or vulnerability, a lack of the right to
express their opinions (to family members, community or government),
poor levels of health, literacy, education, and the range and quality of
services. As a result, poverty is defined in terms of a lack of basic ability
 2.2-                                   5                                       2.2-                                   6
                                                                                                                               Incidence of urban poverty. Latin America (1980 - 1997)

                                                                                                                          40                           35
                                80.0                                                                                      35




                                                                                                     % of urban poverty
                                                                        75.1                                                                                               30              Years
                                                      71.2                                                                30        25                                                   1. 1980
                                70.0                                                                                      25                                                             2 .1990
                                       65.6                  61.2              62.0                                                                                                      3 .1997
                                                                                                                          20
       Urbanisation level (%)




                                60.0
                                                                                                                          15
                                              46.3                                      Years
                                50.0                                                  1. 1980                             10
                                                                                      2 .1990
                                                                                      3 .2000
                                                                                                                          5
                                40.0
                                                                                                                          0
                                30.0                                                                                                1                   2                   3
                                                                                                                                                      Year
                                20.0

                                10.0
                                                                                                Source: CEPAL (1999), Social Panorama of Latin America.
                                                                                                            Figure 3. Incidence of urban poverty –                  Latin America (1980-1997)
                                 0.0
                                          1              2                 3
                                                                                                      These urban poverty figures can be seen reflected, more frequently,
Source: CEPAL (1999) Social Panorama and United Nations (1998) World Urbanizations
 Prospects: 1996 revision                                                                       in our region’s cities, where most of the poor obtain their income from
                                         Figure 2: General urbanisation and poverty             informal sources. In the late nineties, 48 of every 100 urban workers
                                                                                                were had jobs in the informal sector, 32 of which corresponded to
      At the end of 1990, 125,8 million inhabitants of urban areas were                         subsistence-type jobs (low-quality self-employed workers and domestic
poor. This situation compromised 35 in every 100 households. Yet,                               servants), while only 16 were involved in micro-enterprises (sub-
when several countries succeeded in reducing the urban poverty level to                         segments of better productivity) (OIT, 1999). In addition, it is noted
lower levels (like Brazil, Chile, Panama, Peru and Uruguay), the                                (Nora Clichevsky 2000) that rentals in boarding houses, villas, etc, as
reduction of poverty on a regional scale could be catalogued only as                            well as payments of “peajes” for the use of electricity and for services
“moderate” (CEPAL, 1999), as the following chart shows.                                         given to other indigents, constitutes an important portion of the meagre
                                                                                                income of the poor.
                                                                                                      According to the World Bank, Latin America and the Caribbean is
                                                                                                a comparatively rich region, but includes two extremely poor countries
                                                                                                (Haiti and Honduras) and three of the 10 countries weighed down by
                                                                                                external debt (Argentina, Brazil and Mexico).




2.2-                                                                7                           2.2-                                                            8
Land tenancy

The urban population in Latin America and the Caribbean, which in 1970
represented 57,2% of the total, reached 73,4% in 1995, and could reach
85% by 2025 (Nora Clichevsky, 2000). This urban growth in Latin
America and the Caribbean presents itself as a proliferation of informal
settlements, located principally on the outskirts of cities, where land is                                  No owners
commonly communal or federal property. It generates controversy over                                        29%
their tenancy: bordering on outlawed goods, urban disturbance, and
housing lacking hygiene and basic services. This occupation of land with
no urban-environmental facilities for residential purposes is subject to
flooding, contamination, illegal garbage dumps. There is no
infrastructure and access to public transportation, employment centres,                                                        Owners
elementary schools, and primary health care centres is difficult (Nora                                                          71%
Clichevsky, 2000). In addition to this, the economic interest of the
original landowners, the appearance of property sales fringing on
legality, as well as the dearth of municipal resources to meet the
increasing demand for services, can set up social conflicts on a great
scale.
       According to Prof. Teolinda Bolívar, tenancy should be understood
within a social and human context, since it does drive participation and
                                                                                      Source: UNCHS, 2000
organisation of the community, its development and strengthening|,
“Landownership is not a relevant problem, and inhabitants of these                                           Figure 4: Land tenancy
neighbourhoods are not bothered by it. In reality, the core of their
anguish is not tenancy but the phantom of eviction, which is always                 Latin American constitutions define land in different ways, from its
present regardless of the possession of the land Such a phantom,             social function to the absolute right of private ownership. These
generally very real, can only be fought with consolidation and integration   distinctions have, partially, marked the different specific policies over the
of the urban scheme and net services, as well as with provision of           marketing of land and its implementation. For example, the constitution
communal facilities comparable to the rest of the city.” (Cilento S. A. et   that Brazil passed in 1988 established the social function of land. To do
al, 1991)                                                                    this they have defined a progressive tax that municipalities can demand,
       According to UNCHS estimations, approximately 29% of the              from an owner of land without any construction or sub-use. This kind of
families in Latin America and The Caribbean, live in “non-landowner”         tax could amount to expropriation. Also they have another rule, which
conditions, as the next chart shows:                                         contemplates the granting of property rights to people who could retain
                                                                             the land for an uninterrupted period of five years, without opposition of
                                                                             the land owner to such possession. In other countries, just recently in the

2.2-                                  9                                      2.2-                                         10
last decade, it is an obligation to service the land with basic services. In
Quito, for example, since 1992 when Ordinance 3050 was approved,
settlements are prohibited on slopes exceeding than 30 degrees. But on
the hillsides of Pichincha, a seismic risk zone, for example, there were
more than 80 000 people already living there at the time the new                                          35.00
                                                                                                                                                                                 33.15

legislation was approved.
                                                                                                          30.00
       There are other countries whose constitutions do not contemplate




                                                                                  % of urban households
social function, like in Mexico. Argentina’s 1994 constitutional reform                                   25.00                      24.95

did not incorporate any reference to urban soil and its social function.                                                                             21.58

The Chilean constitution of 1980 clearly affirms the institution of private                               20.00     18.63


property ownership. However, interviews and newspapers articles were
                                                                                                                                                                   13.70
found that document, in countries like Peru, Mexico, Colombia and                                         15.00

Venezuela, great efforts on their part to regulate the tenancy of land in
                                                                                                          10.00
informal settlements. In Venezuela, in particular, there is a “Ley de
Barrios” proposal to urbanise popular zones. The objective is to regulate                                  5.00
land ownership in order for those affected to become part of the formal
economic system – that is to say, for them to have access to loans,                                        0.00
mortgages and insurance and to give formal value to neighbourhood                                                 No piped        No flushing     No electric   No access to No access to
                                                                                                                  water in      toilet in house   Lighting in    safe water   sanitation
activities, revive dead capital and civic responsibilities, and provide                                            House                            house
security and stability.

Basic services infrastructure                                                  Source: UNCH, 2000
                                                                                                                            Figure 5: Basic services infrastructure.
One of the main deficiencies we can observe in Latin American and
Caribbean cities is the lack of access to basic services, such as drinking
water, electricity, sewage waters system, etc. This situation is aggravated           These statistical estimates are much higher in Haiti, a country that
in urban informal settlements, which are mostly located on plots of land       reflects the most critical conditions in Latin America and the Caribbean,
that the government has not anticipated urbanising. Hence, no provision        where 78,30% have no piped water, 63% does not have access to
has been made for these services, and they are excluded from any               drinking, and 66% have no waterborne sewerage system.
planning in the short or medium term by the local government.                         It is important to emphasise that, when these numbers are
       Figures published by UNCH in 2000 indicate that, in 1997, 18,63%        mentioned, we are talking about almost 80 million people who do not
of the Latin American and Caribbean urban population had no access to          have these basic services that could guarantee their right to a dignified
piped water supply, 13,70% did not have drinking water, 24,95% did not         life, and could contribute to sustainable development for themselves and
have sanitary housing installations, 33,15% had no access to waterborne        consequently for the region.
sewerage systems, and lastly 21,58% did not have electricity. These
values are reflected in Figure 4.
 2.2-                                  11                                      2.2-                                                                 12
Hazards and vulnerability                                                                                                                                            Damage
                                                                                                                                                                    (exchange
                                                                                                                                                                       rate:
Hazards are considered intrinsic and latent within informal settlements,                Country              Date                   Disasters                Deaths
                                                                                                                                                                    multiply by
but the level, degrees of perception and ways to confront them could                                                                                                106 to get
                                                                                                                                                                      US$)
vary, according to the features that society chooses itself. In order to
                                                                                       Nicaragua             1972                  Terremoto                     6 000     2,968
define hazard, first we have to be aware of two concepts that, besides
being intimately related, are part of it, like threats and vulnerability.              Honduras              1974                 Huracán Fiji                   7 000     1,331
      A natural phenomenon could be atmospheric, topological,                          Guatemala             1976                  Terremoto                     23 000    2,147
hydrological, tectonic or telluric, and it can represent a hazard when it       Republica Dominicana         1979           Ciclones David y Frederic            2 000     1,869
becomes intense, or when it produces the sum of a variety of minor              Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru     1982-83                   El Niño                      n.d.     5,651
events that could cause verifiable damage to society and the                            Mexico               1985                  Terremoto                     8 000     6,216
environment. Vulnerability is defined as the probability that a                        Colombia              1985     Nevado del Ruiz, Armero, Chinchina         22 000     465
community, exposed to the impact of a natural hazard, can suffer damage                El Salvador           1986                  Terremoto                     1 200     1,352
according to the degree of fragility of its elements (infrastructure,                   Ecuador              1987                  Terremoto                     1 000     1,438
housing, productive activities). These damages could represent the              Costa Rica y Nicaragua       1988                 Huracán Joan                    300      1,700
impact on the development, on the economy, and on the ways the                                                                                                            Cerca de
community enhances social interaction and human life. Vulnerability can          Costa Rica y Panama         1991                  Terremoto                      73       2,300
be classified according to three points of view: physical vulnerability,               Nicaragua             1992                   Tsunami                       116       30
social vulnerability and institutional vulnerability.                            Comunidad Andina          1997-98                   El Niño                      600      7,694
      Hazard can be defined as the probability that damage could happen            Central America           1998                Huracán Match                   9 124     6,008
in a specific scenario, when that scenario is exposed to a hazard of             Dominican Republic          1998               Huracán Georges                   235      2,193
specific intensity and that scenario has vulnerability as an intrinsic pre-            Colombia              1999                  Terremoto                  1 185        1,580
condition. In Latin America and the Caribbean disasters are recurrent                                                                                        20 000-
and, in the last 30 years, practically all countries have suffered a disaster          Venezuela             1999         Deslizamientos y Avalanchas        50 000        3,237
on at least one occasion, with great intensity and severe consequences to       Fuente: BID /CEPAL, 2000
the development process. Its geographical layout and variable geological                             Chart 1: Latin America and Caribbean disasters since 1972
climate frequently and periodically evidence a manifestation of the force
of nature. The most important disasters that have occurred in this region
since 1972 are showed in Chart 1.




2.2-                                    13                                      2.2-                                               14
                                                                               Number of disasters by country (1900 – 1999)

                     140
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         136

                                                                               124

                     120
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1% 4%         10%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 7%                                            Deslizamientos
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1%
                                                                                                96
  Number of events




                     100                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          95
                                                                                                                                               93                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Frentes polares
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                11%            Huracanes
                     80                                                                 73
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Incendios Forestales

                     60    56
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Inundaciones
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     21%                                         2%            Otros
                                                                                                                                                                                            43
                                                                                                                                                                                                               40
                     40                                              33
                                                                                                           36
                                                                                                                                                                                                    34
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Sequías
                                                                                                                                                                       32
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  29
                                                                                                                        24                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Terremotos
                                                                                                                                                         21                                                                                                                                                       21
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       17
                     20
                                       11
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              15
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    11
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Tormentas
                                                             9                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           8
                                                  6                                                                                                                                 5
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1                                                                                                                    Tsumani
                      0
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           5%                                                  Volcanismo
                                                                                                                        Republica Dominicana




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Venezuela
                                                                     Bolivia




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Suriname
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Honduras




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Uruguay
                                                                                        Chile




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Nicaragua
                                                                                                                                                         El Salvador
                                                                                                Colombia




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Panamá
                                       Bahamas




                                                            Belice




                                                                                                                                                                                   Guyana
                                                                                                                                               Ecuador




                                                                                                                                                                       Guatemala




                                                                                                                                                                                                               Jamaica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         México
                                                                                                                                                                                            Haití




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Paraguay
                                                                               Brasil




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Trinidad y Tobago
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Perú
                                                 Barbados
                           Argentina




                                                                                                           Costa Rica




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       36%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     10% land slides, 1% polar fronts, 11% hurricanes, 2%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     forest fires, 36% floods, 2% others, 5% droughts, 21%
Source: BID/ CEPAL, 2000                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             earthquakes, 7% storms, 1% tsunamis and 4%
         Figure 6: Number of Disasters per country (1900 – 1999)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Source: BID/ CEPAL, 2000
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Figure 7: Causes of main disasters in Latin America
      The following figure indicates the causes of the main disasters in
Latin America and the Caribbean, mostly from flooding and earthquakes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When a disaster occurs, the most affected are the inhabitants of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              informal settlements, since adequate norms of design and construction,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              and the maintenance of construction and goods-production activities and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              services are not applied. Hence, the settlements have no durability and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              are defined as having too high a risk level.




2.2-                                                                                                                                                                   15                                                                                                                                                     2.2-                                         16
Psychosocial risks                                                           a mortality rate of 1.2%. According to Cecodap (1999), half a million
                                                                             Venezuelan children present an average of 2 episodes of gastroenteritis a
Most references to physical risks have been mentioned, but inhabitants       year. The PAHO reports, in its 1991-2001 report on cholera, 3 658 cases
of informal settlements are also exposed to psychosocial risk. They are      of cholera between 1996 and 2000, 86 of which were fatalities. The
strongly impacted by unemployment, limited opportunity to study, a lack      increment in morbidity indices caused by hydric events can be observed.
of public transportation, health and security, etc.                                 On the other hand, millions of people suffer from infections
      The fact that they lack all these conditions, and the need for         transmitted by vectors like mosquitoes, which may or may not grow and
employment to generate an income to satisfy their social and basic needs     live around contaminated dammed-up waters. The dengue virus uses as
makes this informal urban environment a fertile ground for illegal           vector the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. According to PAHO 2001, 170 000
informal activities, such as the making of easy money, at great risk, but    cases of dengue were registered in Latin America for the year 2001.
required for supporting their families. Examples are trade in and            Among the precipitating factors that cause such diseases are the
consumption of drugs and prostitution, especially amongst the youth.         deterioration or lacking of basic services, the mosquito’s biology and the
We shall make reference to each one of these risks.                          absence of community organisations to take the necessary preventive
      When we talk of prostitution, some investigations indicate that, as    measures.
Latin America becomes more impoverished. The American NGO Casa                      Another problem directly related to poverty is malnutrition, this
Alianza, through its director, confirmed that Latin America prostitutes      being more serious in children since it directly affects their growth and
one million children annually (First Global Congress against Sexual          development. According to a Cecodap report (1999), in Venezuela, for
Explotation of Children, Sweden 2001).                                       example, more than 4 million (40% of the population under 17 years of
      Also, in the last two decades, an increase in delinquent violence in   age) suffer from malnutrition; 1.2 million children between 7 and 14
Latin America has been evidenced, presenting critical indices in the last    years have an acute nutritional deficit. All this means that a
decade. During this period Latin America became the most violent             malnourished generation is emerging with an intellectual deficit.
region of the world (Lucía Dammert, 2000). This region occupies second               The malnutrition mortality rate increased from 3 to 4,6 per
place, with 68% of the population being victims of crime. This               100 000 inhabitants between 1989 and 1994. This increment was due to
percentage is higher than the global rate of 61% (Lucía Dammert, 2000).      the association between malnutrition with infectious diseases and
The proportion of the population that was assaulted reaches 31%, which       gastroenteritis. According to UNO estimates for the year 2005,
is much higher than the global rate of 19%, and nine perceptual points       malnourished inhabitants of Latin America will amount to 6% of the
more than North America, which occupies third place.                         population (Torbay Malvina, 2002).
      Additionally, the inhabitants of informal settlements confront                In relation to the HIV virus, in May 2002 the Red Cross shows
severe health problems. Enteritis and other diarrhoeic disorders have, in    terrifying statistics. In Latin America 1,4 million people are infected,
the last years, been the principal causes of morbidity in urban and rural    130 000 new cases have been reported during this past year, 80 000
areas. This is a consequence of an environment lacking in sanitary           people have died, 40 000 children have been infected, 8 000 of whom
conditions; among them is a deficiency or lack of drinking water and         have died. These diseases, together with other sexually transmitted
sewer services (PAHO, 2001). Ten per cent of the diseases in developing      diseases, such as those caused by fungus, syphilis and the papilloma
countries are due to contaminated water and insufficient water supply        virus are on the rise, just as tuberculosis, with its association with the
(WB, 2002). For example, Venezuela annually registers more than              HIV virus, is more prevalent (Red Cross et al, 2002).
220 000 cases of gastroenteritis in children younger than two years, with
 2.2-                                   17                                   2.2-                                   18
Construction systems used at the “barrios” and structural                            The work entitled “Densification and housing at the barrios
faults                                                                         Caraqueños” points out the following structural problems in house
                                                                               construction at the “barrios”:
To this panorama of risk and vulnerability related to the way housing is
constructed in informal settlements can be added the dangers from                    • the construction of resistance elements in the structural system,
common construction systems. Construction in informal settlements is                 • to the arrangement and structural binding, and
poor in quality, resulting in very high geotechnical, structural and health          • to the resistance and concrete quality.
risks for the inhabitants. Informal settlements have been characterised by
an almost total absence of geotechnical studies and geological risk            The structural problems in the “barrios” are not evident in single-storey
assessments; furthermore, there is insufficient knowledge about the            houses, especially if the house has a light roof. Difficulties begin, and
nature of the materials used and construction practices (Arrieta de B.L.,      effectively can be worse, when houses have 2 or 3 storeys. Some people
2001).                                                                         even plan to construct more floors in future. The major difficulties are an
       Two stages can be distinguished: the initial, which is the              absence of any project or plan, or of the necessary technical advice to
construction of the “rancho” as a provisional, highly unstable structure,      integrate the structures. The problem will become most evident during
and a second stage, which consists on the progressive substitution of the      and after a natural disaster such as an earthquake.
“rancho” for a house made of more durable materials. The materials used              These risks confirm the social panorama of profound inequality as
in the initial stage are, in general, secondhand, offering little protection   to wealth distribution which, added to discrimination, social segregation
and of short durability. They include zinc sheeting, wood, blocks, sun-        and urban violence, constitutes a high-risk scenario of social
dried clay brick, clay and cardboard. Inhabitants progressively increase       disintegration in informal settlements in urban areas.
the occupation density by adding more floors to the initial one, creating
multistorey homes. In some barrios in Caracas they have reached 8              4. “Sustainable livelihood” case studies
storeys (Bolivar, T et al, 1993). The problem does not arise from the          The cases presented below have been identified by the CIB, TG-40
number of flights or the “barrios” inhabitants’ occupation of almost all of    research group as appropriate Latin American cases to be analysed under
the land, but from the almost total absence of technical construction          the “sustainable livelihood” heading. A more detailed analysis of each of
criteria, producing a structure vulnerable to disaster, risk and, in some      the experiences described in this focus will be the object of a later work.
cases, even functional instability. Building is carried out without the use           The “livelihood” framework constitutes a tool to better understand
of appropriate tools or the necessary equipment.                               livelihoods, particularly for less-favoured communities. This focus on the
                                                                               relief of poverty is a strategy developed by the Sustainable Rural
       The more common construction systems include:                           Livelihoods Advisory Committee, and is supported by previous work
       • clay (“bahareque”),                                                   done by the Institute of Development Studies, among others, and has
       • sun-dried clay (“adobe”),                                             recently been incorporated by a series of international development
       • reinforced portico with block walls, and                              agencies, such as British Cooperation (DFID, 2000). The method
       • structural rubble masonry.                                            considers that a means of livelihood depends on abilities and assets
                                                                               (human, social, economic, financial and natural), as well as the activities
                                                                               necessary to sustain community life.

2.2-                                   19                                      2.2-                                   20
       Livelihoods are sustainable whenever they are able to respond to,       neighbourhoods (3 000 projects comprising these types of unit already
and recover from, sudden changes and pressures, maintaining or                 exist in other Venezuelan areas). Catuche is one of these 115 degraded
improving their abilities and capital, without depleting their natural         units in the city of Caracas, located on the foothills of the Avila
resource foundation.                                                           Mountain, over lots at a very steep gradient. The foundation of the
       In the studied cases, in addition, resilience factors (endurance        Catuche Project is to develop programmes of revalorisation, which
ability) have been identified as present in every one of them. "The            improve urban conditions in the degraded sectors, as well as their urban
‘resilience’ term in engineering originally refers to the ability of any       integration into the city. Negotiations and responsibility lie in the hands
material to acquire its initial shape after being exposed to a deforming       of civil associations, within an open and flexible consortium that has the
pressure. When referring to human resilience, the term applies to the          responsibility of coordinating and negotiating with the various
ability of an individual or social system to live well and to enjoy a          development agents. They are supported by intermediate NGO
positive development, regardless of the difficult living conditions; and       organisations, which are academic and professional institutions proposed
furthermore, their ability to emerge strengthened and transformed from         by the local government. This type of project, which creates a space for
such situation” (Combariza, Helena, 2001) – that is, hidden human              civil society in the degraded areas of the city, can be reproduced and
potential. Resilience, understood as a person’s ability to do things well      applied around the world. It contributes to the construction of cities and
despite adverse conditions, has emerged as an alternative that allows one      to the citizens’ development. It will produce changes in the legal context
to see the light at the end of the tunnel in situations commonly associated    type of resources in regard to control and evaluation, and to technology.
with an endless number of needs. The concept of resilience (or the             Since this project represents a combination of techniques and
faculty of recovering) involves two components: resilience in the face of      negotiations with the urban needs of society and criteria associated with
destruction – i.e. the ability to protecting one’s integrity when faced with   the affected communities, it will be representative of the relevant culture,
huge pressure, and an ability to show positive, vital behaviour, regardless    and in this sense it will be adaptable to different contexts.
of difficult circumstances. “Resilience: A new working perspective                    In 1997, the United Nations Development Program included the
within the contexts of poverty”. (Caritas Argentina.                           Catuche Project among the long list of successful communitarian
http://www.caritas.org.ar/reflexiones.htm)                                     experiences being carried out around the world, and it recognised that
                                                                               this civil scheme could serve as a model of auto-management for other
4.1 First case. Capuche: An urban and environmental                            regions.
    development and management model in Valle del Rio and                             This year, the efforts of almost a decade crystallised. In all, 35
    the Barrio Capuche, Caracas, Venezuela                                     barrio families settled on the banks of Catuche River, were relocated in
                                                                               comfortable two- and three-roomed prefabricated apartments.
Summary                                                                               Looking out from their brand-new balconies, the occupants can see
                                                                               their ranchos, abandoned for reasons of insecurity, remain vacant. This
The “Sector plan for incorporation of the Caracas metropolitan barrios         way, people have begun to understand that nature’s limitations should be
one into the urban structure”, from the National Housing Council,              respected, and they envisage the possibility of cultivating a new lifestyle
proposes the urbanisation of 4,600 acres of land currently occupied by         in the barrio.
barrios within 15 years, with the aim of meeting the needs of 1 200 000               One of the most important lessons of the Catuche experience is the
people. The plan defines two work scales: 24 continuous large areas of         need to produce a general urban design project for the illegal areas of the
barrios, divided into 115 smaller units, properly delimited, similar to        barrios, which functions as a guideline for informal settlements in
 2.2-                                 21                                        2.2-                                    22
general, while being adopted by individual communities. The project           homes were like a fortress that prevented the waves of mud following
gives an appropriate answer not only to what has to be constructed to         their course blocks down the line.
reduce illegal settlements, but how to do it in an efficient manner where            There are still 5 000 injured folk. Pain dampens the spirit of the
the community plays a major role in the process.                              neighbourhood. Most of those left homeless have been moved to towns
       This project was severely affected by the impact caused by the         away from Caracas, but determination to rebuild the barrio continues to
Vargas State tragedy, which occurred in December 1991.. The biggest           drive all those who helped to form this community of 15 000 members.
flood in the past 50 years caused landslides and fractures in structures
constructed on the river banks. At present the consortium has shown a         The social network
high level of endurance and consolidation, maintaining itself as an           In spite of the hardship left behind by the catastrophe, neighbours have
organisation, with a capacity to modify its initial project and achieve new   assembled in commissions and carried out workshops with the purpose
funds for reconstruction. In this new stage, resilience factors that have     of reducing the risk of living too close to the river. The Padre Virtuoso
been identified are currently under analysis and constitute the object of     from Fe y Alegria, one of the most prestigious and oldest civil
study of separate research. The consortium has been rewarded with             associations in the country, states that the consortium has operated as an
success in a judicial case filed against Public Power, claiming the           agency of local development since 1994, and that the main objective of
necessary funding to complete the project and the anticipated                 this communitarian enterprise has been to attain the Catuche River’s
construction.                                                                 incorporation into the urban structure of the city.
       Five thousand victims, 15 deaths and around 800 affected houses              Therefore, its main job has been to transform the closed river packs
strongly affected this community, considered as a model around the            into open sky canals. “The river packs, built before the implementation
world. The struggle now is to stay together and not break up the social       of the organisation, were supervised by our team of technicians, and they
structure formed a decade ago (Garnica, H., 2000).                            were capable of resisting the rains for a return period of a century (16,57
       The mud and the landslide took the life of 15 Catuche residents,       m3/sec). Before the tragedy, the full capacity of the fluvial waters was
left approximately 5 000 people homeless, seriously affected almost 800
                                                                              designed for and the canals were in better condition than those of a
houses, undermined part of the foundation of Building No I at the
                                                                              formal city. The control system for flooding, designed for centennial
Portillo corner, and destroyed the household goods of those living on the
                                                                              rain, was totally cleared. Several ranchos which threatened the stability
ground floor. But it was not capable of breaking up the spirit of a
                                                                              of the structure of the Carlos III Bridge, and as a consequence the rest of
community that staunchly refused to disappear under the mud.
                                                                              the city was substituted by appropriate houses located at the Rejas
       Those who survived the tragedy, those who still wake up frightened
                                                                              corner. Besides five “Fe y Alegría” centres for the community’s
in the middle of the night and today recount the dramatic efforts of
                                                                              educational services were functioning”. Inhabitants knew in advance the
victims, have acknowledged that the catastrophe was not worse owing to
                                                                              results of studies carried out by hydraulic specialists, and they alerted
the existence of the Catuche project, in which they have participated for
                                                                              people as to contingency measures to put into practice in the event of a
ten years. The tragedy taught them to defy the fury of the overflowing
                                                                              tragedy.
river. At 22:00 community leaders started to spread the alarm and from
                                                                                    In general, the specialists worked together with the inhabitants, so
that moment on massive evacuation began.
                                                                              they would be able to better handle nature. At the moment of the
       The 34 families that had occupied the buildings at the Portillo
                                                                              catastrophe, thanks to the consortium’s diligence and the community’s
corner for more than two years, and who had lived for a long time on the
banks of the river, had the opportunity to emerge as survivors. Their
 2.2-                                  23                                     2.2-                                   24
organisation, it was possible to save many lives and the disaster’s                 problems, and the defence of community rights against the Public
consequences were mitigated.                                                        Power’s right to continue with the project.
                                                                                • The stabilisation of the community groups, and the creation of a
                                                                                    consortium`s constitution gave the community access to laws and
The dream of coming back                                                            urban codes, as well as construction limits and characteristics in the
Nancy Sequere’s priority is to rebuild the house where she raised her               illegal settlements.
four children and in which she lived from the age of 12. Her dream is to        • The execution of construction works by local enterprises, as well as
come back and, if she is allowed to, to rebuild the home that for such a            transparent administration of all the funds, which are open to
long time she had in the “Calle Real of Los Mecedores”. However, she                inspection by all inhabitants interested in the project.
says, “if people from the Catuche organisation tell me that it is not           • The prevention and control of zones with geological risks.
possible because of the risk, I will go wherever they tell me to, because       • Demonstration of strength and social capital in the fight against
we are stronger when we work together, aren’t we?”                                  adversity.
      Seated on a mattress, which has become the living room of her             • Effective control of the Catuche River’s water.
imaginary house, she repeats the promises she made to herself,                  • The creation of community services.
convinced that they will come true. “It is not that I am afraid to face life,   • The creation of an infrastructure service.
but …how do you trick the stomachs of four kids,” she asks herself,             • The reconstruction of pedestrian paths.
discouraged when she thinks that one possibility of build her future is at      • The relocation of affected houses through the improvement
Guri, more than 700 kilometres away from Caracas.                                   programme.
      Nancy was moved to the Teo Capriles velodrome on Thursday,                • The organisation of communitary lodging .
December the 16th, and since then has tried to learn how to live the life of    • Physical restoration contributes to the fight against anomie (a lack of
a disaster victim. “In 34 years I had never experienced anything like it,”          social and moral standards in a society) – i.e. the total disintegration
Now she is determined to reduce the tensions produced by the room at                of collective work in urban communities with low incomes. In this
the local gym, which has been turned into shelter, while her children               sense, communities adopt the project as a future global programme,
spend their leisure time with other homeless friends.                               fundamentally sustained by their own achievements.
      She prays repeatedly for the timely culmination of the soil study to      • The creation of small local enterprises.
be done on the area. Then she will finally know if it makes any sense to        • The cost of construction represents 60% that of the traditional
keep dreaming of rebuilding the house covered by mud, or whether she                method.
must direct her hopes towards another stable corner of Caracas ( El
                                                                                • People have been informed of their rights as citizens.
Nacional newspaper, January 5, 2000).
                                                                                • References created for an understanding of citizens’ actions.
                                                                                • Employment promotion and other social work: education, education
Repercussions:
                                                                                    on the use of water, health programmes.
• The creation of new legal procedures, such as the procedure of
  “transference of the soil property”, which led people to transfer their       • A territorial ordinance plan that presupposes the configuration of a
                                                                                    system that will mitigate and control the risks associated with the
  possessions to other places when this was necessary , solved technical
                                                                                    Catuche River. It is expected that these mechanisms could be applied
                                                                                    to all urban rivers. Also, the process of the planned recuperation of
2.2-                                    25                                       2.2-                                    26
   inhabited zones on the slopes of the foothills, started in 1994, will      adopted an innovative model. Instead of waiting for CAMEP to come to
   continue without disrupting the currently affected population.             their homes, they asked for piped systems with a measuring device to be
                                                                              laid up to the entrance to their barrios. From there on, assigned
4.2 Second case. “The price of water”: A Haitian solution                     committees for each community distribute the water to different points of
                                                                              their neighbourhood. The committees, comprising local church members,
In Latin America, with few exceptions, access to drinking water is            political groups and associations, charge for the service and have
marked by a cruel irony. Those who get running water are charged little       obtained legal authorisation to function as public enterprises. They sign
or nothing, in spite of the fact that most of these consumers would have      contracts with construction companies to install the pipes, storage tanks
the means to pay for the service. Those who are not connected to the          and faucets, where the inhabitants can buy water in containers. Likewise,
service and have low incomes usually pay an exorbitant amount of              they hire people to take care of distribution points and to collect the fixed
money for water. This reality, debated in hundreds of conferences, has        tariff. The committees are subject to external audits and must present an
moved many governments to efforts to try to correct the anomaly, but          annual financial report to the neighbourhood and to CAMEP.
with no effective results to date. Meanwhile, communities with such                  The financial arrangements of this mechanism are very clear. The
disparities as Haiti and Argentina are taking the problem into their own      committees pay CAMEP monthly for the delivered water at 30 cents per
hands. Communities are tired of waiting for a free or subsidised running      cubic metre. At the same time the committees resell the water to the
water service, as well as paying huge amounts of money to aguateros in        residents at $1,00 per m3, which is less than the $3-5 that private
order to attain it. Those communities are discovering creative ways of        suppliers used to charge. After paying CAMEP for the water, the tariff
obtaining the service at a reasonable price. At the same time, they are       also covers the cost of administration and maintenance of the distribution
being forced to reconsider ancient premises about the running water           net, the salaries of those in charge and the investment to expand the
networks and justice on the provision of that service.                        services. The profit margin is 17%, which is crucial to the system’s
       A Haitian solution. The capital of Haiti, the poorest country in the   sustainability. The system allows the committees to finance other works
        southern hemisphere, may not be the most promising                    needed in the community, such as sanitary installations or sports
        environment to challenge those presumptions. Even though the          facilities.
        phreatic levels in that region contain more than enough water for            Until now, the committees created in the 14 districts have
        its two million inhabitants, only 10% of the houses are connected     constructed 70 centres for delivery, various cisterns and about 20 km of
        to piped water. CAMEP, the public enterprise that offers the          piping. These systems supply water to more than 150 000 people (more
        service, has a high level of debt, and has stopped maintaining        than 50% of the population) in these districts. The committees collect
        public faucets. Ninety per cent of the population is not connected    around $20 000 monthly and sales are continuously increasing. With this
        to the CAMEP network, and is exposed to the higher prices of          initiative, problems that looked unsolvable have been resolved.
        water charged by private enterprises, which range from $3 to $5              At the present time, CAMEP is implementing an expansion
        per m3. CAMEP, in contrast, charges 30 cents.                         strategy for 60 barriadas in Puerto Principe; and in Argentina “Aguas
       Together with GRET (the Technological Exchange and Research            Argentina” is institutionalising “Communitarian groups of Workers” in
institute of France) and CAMEP, community organisations have                  order to incorporate neighbourhoods of low resources.
developed alternatives to bring drinking water at reasonable prices to 14
of the poorest districts of Puerto Principe. With the help of the European
Community and the French government, these communities have
 2.2-                                   27                                    2.2-                                    28
Social engineering                                                                    Life in these settlements has always been related to the Ozama
                                                                               River. This is and has been used for drainage, a fishing source,
According to Alejandro Brailowski, GRET’s local ex-director former
                                                                               transportation, recreation, a washing place, etc. The settlers have been
director, and some technicians from BID, what are more difficult to find
                                                                               slowly taking over the area originally occupied by the river, filling it with
than financing for the success of the project are the human, cultural, legal
                                                                               soil, discarded goods, garbage and other materials in order to generate
and political components, which allow the establishment of a self-
                                                                               compacted areas on which to build their houses.
financed service in a poor community. “Like other marginal zones, these
                                                                                      The very precarious conditions of the land on which they raise the
Puerto Principe’s districts are very political and have numerous groups
                                                                               settlements, whether on the river borders or in the middle of the city, is
with counteracting interests,” Brailowski explains. An effort to bring
                                                                               one of the main challenges, since in most cases improvement of their
water to similar places could be easily sabotaged if it does not have the
                                                                               living conditions requires their relocation away from the settlement, thus
support of all the groups. If some inhabitants believe that the service does
                                                                               generating huge social and economic cost.
not respond to their interests, they could demand a free service, interfere
                                                                                      The La Cienaga area has ideal soil for the harvesting of rice,
with the system’s employees and even cause damage to its installations.
                                                                               bananas, yuca and sweet potatoes, and it had a fertile coconut area known
In many poor countries, the problem is aggravated by the police’s
                                                                               as “Los Cocos”. These lands used to be cultivated by the inhabitants of
reluctance to go into the poorest and dangerous barrios.
                                                                               Los Guandules with the grain of the same name. The area is now
      To build up a consensus in this kind of neighbourhood requires
                                                                               occupied by rural peasants, because of its location in the centre of the
skilful “social engineering”. Brailowsky and other development
                                                                               city, although it does not meet minimum conditions of habitability.
specialists describe, in this way, the work it takes to harmonise local
                                                                                      One of the most important aspects in the La Cienaga context is the
groups to create structures and an administrative ruling which allow all
                                                                               high proportion of young people under 14 –18% of the population – who
interested people to make decisions and manage the service.One of the
                                                                               are not registered with the authorities; giving them unfortunate
BID specialists, believes that the success of future expansion projects
                                                                               anonymity.. As a result the children do not attend formal schools, where
will depend to a great extent on the capacity and availability of
                                                                               they will be asked for identification documents which they do not have.
organisations to carry out vital tasks in new communities.
                                                                               Many children attend “backyard schools”, where the criterion is more
      In this experience, evident resilience factors have been also
                                                                               that of “attendance” than actual education.
identified, as well as the community’s refusal to be overcome by
                                                                                      Economic activities are unstable, irregular and informal. According
adversity. The material has been extracted from the Enfoque magazine.
                                                                               to research, most of the working population are employed in manual
                                                                               labour activities with very low incomes, in unstable conditions, with
4.3 Third Case. La Cienaga and Los Guandules, Santo
                                                                               abusive work schedules and hazardous conditions, without any social
Domingo, Dominican Republic
                                                                               security or legal documentation. This is reflected in the very high level of
                                                                               unemployment, where only 20% of the population achieves a monthly
 La Cienaga and Los Guandules, which had 26 588 people in 1997, are
                                                                               income of 2 000 Dominican pesos (18 pesos = US$1), as 49% gets less
informal settlements with the highest poverty level in Santo Domingo.
                                                                               than this amount. An significant proportion of the population has no
Forty per cent of the inhabitants are natives; meanwhile 60% are part of
                                                                               fixed place of work, but does it on the streets, promoting its products and
the one million immigrant refugees from Haiti, the poorest country in the
                                                                               offering its services. Others work or sell their products in their own
southern hemisphere.
                                                                               homes (home-based enterprises), those amounting to more than 50% of
                                                                               the total.
2.2-                                   29                                       2.2-                                   30
      Housing conditions are very precarious in general. This condition      who, by using their initiative, have managed to turn crises into
was aggravated by Hurricane George in 1998. It was necessary to rebuild      opportunities, by allying themselves with groups or associations with the
300 houses, 62% of which required rebuilding through community               common purpose of creating or strengthening their community social
support. Only 4% were done under regular conditions, attending the           networks, developing resilience, and achieving important goals that tend
building regulations. Currently, substitute houses are being constructed,    to be difficult to achieve at government or international agency level, for
necessitating the removal of more than 100 families living on the river      the benefit of transforming their living conditions.
banks..
                                                                             • Governments are failing to provide adequate land lots and housing in
      Besides, another problem is emerging, because it is inevitable that
                                                                               to satisfy existing demand. The poorest inhabitants have therefore
other poor families from Haiti will soon occupy the high-risk areas being
                                                                               been forced to invade empty land, without minimal security and
vacated. Of these extended families, 74% live in overcrowded conditions
                                                                               protection, with a negative impact on the environment, poor living
in one- or two-roomed structures. Of the new buildings, 43% are built
                                                                               standards and very serious social problems arising in the surrounding
with cardboard and zinc sheeting, as well as recycled and mixed
                                                                               city areas.
materials, making the houses very vulnerable.
       This vulnerability is due not only to the poor quality of the         • Commitments coming from government after the disasters have
                                                                               passed are usually temporary, spurred by the emergency and which,
materials and the lack of construction technology, but also to their
                                                                               after a short time are neglected, leaving the inhabitants once again
location in areas susceptible to flooding. Additionally, 40% of these
                                                                               abandoned to their fate, and just as vulnerable as before. It calls our
houses have no water supply or electrical service. The few water access
                                                                               attention to the fact that the types of construction, as well as the
points are broken and very vulnerable to pollution.
                                                                               community groups organised in the suburbs, present different
      The sanitary situation is highly deficient because of the Osaka
                                                                               responses whenever they face the different types of adversities
River, which is a concentration point for garbage, polluted water, and
                                                                               described above. This prompts our interest in resistance or resilience
solid material, etc. The environmental pollution causes several diseases –
                                                                               factors that may be like those found in other cases being studied, and
for example, 40% of the inhabitants suffer from intestinal, skin and
                                                                               leads to a confirmation of the primary need to continue these
breathing diseases. In spite of all these conditions, the community has
                                                                               investigations through more detailed studies. This would represent an
developed a high strength of mind against adversity; through the
                                                                               important contribution to diminishing the vulnerability, and promoting
CODECIGUA (Organization Coordination for La Cienaga and Los
                                                                               the living standards of the inhabitants of informal settlements. In this
Guandules Development) and the P. Juan Montalvo Social Educational
                                                                               sense, we would like to refer to the work “Density of the auto-induced
Centre Work.
                                                                               suburbs at the Venezuelan Capital: Risks and Vulnerability”,
                                                                               coordinated by Teolinda Bolivar. On the web page
5. Conclusions
                                                                               http://www.reconstruir.org.sv/archivos/0/89.htm, she makes a
Throughout the study of the cases described, answers can be found to the       statement at the end of the document that deserves our attention as a
question formulated in the original problem. These lead us to certain          final reflection for this work. She says: “We would like to express in
conclusions.                                                                   writing that it is necessary to continue with the research for the
       In critical situations, whenever adversity, risk and an aggressive      purpose of detecting how and why many of the apparently vulnerable
environment predominate, survival depends on creativity, as has been           structures do not collapse during the time of very intense and very
clearly demonstrated by certain inhabitant of the suburbs – old squatters      long rains. Maybe, as observed by one of our advisors, Dr Rodolfo
2.2-                                  31                                     2.2-                                   32
  Sancio, we are in front of discoveries that wise men have not been    7. Cepal ( Comisiòn Econòmica para Amèrica Latina y El Caribe)
  able to reveal.”                                                          Social Panorama in Latin America. Santiago de Chile, 1994.
                                                                        8. Cepal (Comisiòn Econòmica para Amèrica Latina y El Caribe)
Note: We would like to express special gratitude to Consortium Social       Social Panorama in Latin America. Santiago de Chile, 1999.
CATUCHE and Fè y Alegrìa Asociation for their important contribution    9. Cilento, A. Land tenancy of los barrios: Regularization. Popular
to this work, Arch. Cesar Martin from Caracas, Arch. Mariela Rivas          Housing Foundation. Caracas, Venezuela , 1991.
from Mèrida and Geog. Jesùs Savedra from Barquisimeto for their         10. Ciudades para un futuro más sostenible. indice de buenas
support in the supply of written and visual information on the cases        prácticas. (Desarrollo Urbano y Ambiental del Valle del Río
studies .                                                                   Catuche Caracas. Venezuela. Escuela Tècnica Superior de
                                                                            Arquitectura de Madrid, Ministerio de Fomento, España, 2000.
                                                                        11. Clichevsky, N. Informality and urban segregation in Latin
                                                                            America. An approximation. Cepal. Santiago de Chile, 2000.
                                                                        12. Constante, P. The price of water. Enfoque Magazine Bidamerica,
                                                                            1999.
                                                                        13. Dammert, L. Criminal violence and public security in Latin America:
                                                                            The Argentine situation. Cepal. Santiago de Chile, 2000.
                                                                        14. DFID (Department for International Development). Framework and
                                                                            introduction: Sustainable livelihoods guidance sheets. London.
REFERENCES                                                                  available online from
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    settlement. Conpat 2001, Sto. Domingo. UCLA. Decanato de            16. Gaviria A. and Pages, A. Patterns of crime victimization in Latin
    Ingeniería Civil, Barquisimeto, Venezuela, 2001.                        America. Inter American Development Bank. Office of the Chief
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