The imposing Buenos Aires is a metropolis full of contrasts. Its mix of urban design elements includes magnificent buildings with unique facades built in the early 20th Century. Its metro railway system (the first in Latin America) and state-of-the-art construction in the Puerto Madero feature the latest trends in modern architecture. And within this massive metropolis, right in the heart of Buenos Aires, is Barrio 31, whose singular history makes it a veritable sustainable urban development challenge.
Barrio 31 emerged as an informal settlement lacking basic services such as electricity, sewers, drinking water, solid waste collection, and green spaces, among others. Today, the Inter-American Development Bank, together with other multilateral agencies, is supporting the implementation of an integral program of urban improvements in this area. However, this urban improvement is not only about refurbishing the facades of Barrio 31 houses, but also about seeking out options that can help improve its surroundings by incorporating environmental and social standards recommended by the IDB and our environmental and social safeguards policies (OP-703). For example, the program contemplates:
- Regeneration and creation of green spaces to ensure better living and health standards for the community;
- Permanent access to drinking water services;
- Building sustainable schooling infrastructure;
- Intervention and refurbishing of house facades, improving lighting, ventilation and structural safety conditions; and
- Spacious terraces that families can enjoy and use for a wide array of activities.
Additionally, the program includes:
- Implementation of plans aimed at improving response actions to disaster risk situations;
- Environmental education to promote awareness of the importance of home maintenance and preservation, as well as of the conservation of green spaces and of any other infrastructure for public use;
- Creating best practices for solid waste collection; and
- Creating opportunities and safe spaces for women and other vulnerable groups.
This package of standards and best practices will help put in place a critical element for urban development—the creation of safe spaces where community members can take possession of the space, preserve it, and make continuous improvements for their own benefit.
This is only the first stage of the Bank’s intervention in Barrio 31. There will be more to come, which is good news for the community.