Este artículo está también disponible en / This post is also available in: Spanish
Our planet will be home to more than 6.7 billion people by 2050. The main population growth will take place in cities, accounting for 75% of the total population. We can therefore conclude that our future will be eminently urban.
In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) things are very similar. Did you know that 90% of Latin Americans and Caribbeans will reside in urban areas in the next 30 years? Now is the time to ensure that this growth is sustainable, resilient to climate change and does not leave the most vulnerable populations behind.
In today’s article we invite you to travel to Paraguay. We will explain how the IDB, as part of its Urban Development and Housing Division’s neighborhood improvement program, has implemented a collaborative communication and social engagement strategy to improve the living conditions of 1,500 families in the Tacumbú neighborhood of Asunción.
Bañado Sur-Tacumbú Housing and Rehabilitation Program
In Asunción, the neighborhoods located on the banks of the Paraguay River are known as “bañados”. They are usually informal settlements prone to flooding. These types of neighborhoods have been expanding in recent decades, housing almost 20% of Asunción’s population in 2012.
The Tacumbú neighborhood is one of these wetlands. Part of its population is affected by cyclical flooding caused by the rising river. In addition, it faces multidimensional challenges such as, for example:
- deficits in the supply of basic public services
- unhealthy conditions in specific areas
- exposure to climatic hazards due to the location in which they live
- low access to education and formal economic activities
The Bañado Sur-Tacumbú Housing and Rehabilitation Program aims to improve the quality of life of riverside families in the southern area of Asunción through a comprehensive urban regeneration program. To this end, 1,500 social housing units will be built, the neighborhood will be environmentally restored, and better economic opportunities will be created for the families.
The program, carried out by the Ministry of Public Works and Communication (MOPC) and currently in the execution phase, has an investment of US$100 million. It will enable the construction of a safe neighborhood on a 65 ha site at elevation 64, with infrastructure and provision of services, public spaces, quality urban facilities, and community spaces. It will also ensure the environmental resilience of the neighborhood through the implementation of green infrastructure and mitigation actions to address the aggravating effects of climate change on the neighborhood. A component that seeks social and institutional sustainability of the project includes the financing of activities that promote increased social sustainability, continuous communication, adaptive capacity of families, governance and local development, as well as the implementation of gender and inclusion policies.
The Communication and Social Engagement Strategy in the Tacumbú Neighborhood
In complex urban programs such as the Bañado-Sur Tacumbú, it is essential to have a robust communication and social participation strategy. The “Communication and Social Engagement Strategy” (ECPS), developed within the framework of this program, is a reference in the meaningful dialogue necessary to implement initiatives with strong involvement of the beneficiaries. The strategy is based on the implementation of three mechanisms that strengthen dialogue, consultation and participation of stakeholders:
- the Information and Social Communication Mechanism (MIC)
- the Consultation and Participation Mechanism (CCM)
- the Complaints and Grievances Mechanism (MQR)
Moving to action: from pilot to implementation
To carry out the implementation of the communication and social participation strategy (ECPS), the implementation team of the Bañado Sur-Tacumbú Rehabilitation and Housing Program designed a pilot plan to apply the three mechanisms of the ECPS. A specific indicator monitoring tool was also proposed for the consultation plan of the first phase of temporary resettlement. The pilot was born with the idea of identifying the most vulnerable dwellings in the neighborhood and other relevant aspects related to the environment, COVID-19 symptomatology, employability, food security and public services.
Citizen engagement in the Tacumbú swamp is an example of organization and involvement. It shows us a long process of generating organizational awareness to promote projects for the neighborhood through various civil society organizations made up of the residents themselves. From the beginning, the program has promoted different instances of consultation and participation. To date, numerous zonal and public consultations have been held with more than 565 participants. These consultations have addressed issues such as: validation of the census, presentation of the Bañado Tacumbú Master Plan, discussion of the stages of construction, among others.
Recently, the first steps have been taken to promote the SCPD at a general level. Last July, the program activated the Digital Platform “Tacumbú Oñondive”, which aims to be a permanent repository of updated information. To promote its use, the program involved neighborhood residents as collaborators or “social monitors”, assigning them the task of publicizing the new platform, promoting its use and channeling the population’s concerns.
The importance of dialogue and citizen engagement
As has been the case in the Tacumbú swamp, meaningful dialogue strengthens citizen involvement and generates the necessary trust in the agencies for the execution and implementation of integrated neighborhood improvement projects in Paraguay. In this way, the ECPS contributes to strengthening governance and ensuring respectful, inclusive and context-specific projects
If you want to know more about this experience, we invite you to read the full publication: Promoting urban projects: a communication and social participation strategy to promote a collaborative urban transformation: experiences in Paraguay.