100 Resilient Cities – pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation (100RC), held a collaborative workshop (CoLab) in Cali, Colombia from 20-22 February on the resilience of school infrastructure. Cali is located in the southwestern part of the country and is Colombia’s third largest city, with a metropolitan population of about 2-1/2 million people. Cali is at very high at risk from earthquake, as well as flood and landslide hazards.
John Schneider, GEM Secretary General was invited to attend the CoLab workshop on behalf of GEM as a prospective partner in 100RC, potentially to work with Cali and other cities in the 100RC network to improve understanding of earthquake risks. He said “the 100RC CoLab workshop was a great way to meet 100RC partners, city officials and other stakeholders committed to developing resilient cities, and to see how reducing risks to disasters such as earthquakes can play an important part in the process.”
The CoLab was attended by about 50 people, the majority from the Municipality of Cali (Mayor’s office as well as departments of education, risk management, and planning), and the remainder from the 100RC team (led by Vivian Argueta Bernal, Cali Chief Resilience Officer), together with international partners including AIR Worldwide (Alvaro Farias); International Code Council (Alberto Herrera); Build Change (Anna Pavan); Geohazards International (Janise Rodgers); and World Bank (Fernando Ramirez and Fred Krimgold).
The workshop focused on Cali’s ambitious USD 170 million dollar program called “My Community, My School” which seeks to improve the quality of Cali’s public educational system. The aim is to fund improvements to about 150 schools over the next several years, including improving physical infrastructure (e.g., new construction and seismic retrofit), as well as making qualitative improvements in school programs. Some of the key discussion points in the workshop were to consider how to design (or redesign) schools to be centers of their local communities, to be safe and sustainable, and to be the foundations for a resilient Cali. Cali Mayor Maurice Armitage said, “Cuando hablo de resiliencia, que es una palabra rara en Colombia, me refiero a buscar que esos colegios que estamos remodelando o que estamos construyendo se conviertan en los establecimientos donde la gente se puede refugiar." (When I speak of resilience, which is a rare word in Colombia, I mean to look for those schools that we are remodeling or that we are building to become the establishments where people can take refuge.)(Source: http://www.cali.gov.co/resiliencia/publicaciones/139149/colab-es-una-gran-oportunidad-para-invertir-de-manera-resiliente-en-educacion-armitage/)
The workshop promoted interaction between local and international experts to exchange ideas about the design of safe and sustainable schools, and the importance of schools as part of a resilient community. The workshop also produced a set of recommendations for projects for consideration by the Mayor as part of a master plan for the development and maintenance of the school system. As part of the visit to Cali, John also met with Hans Jürgen Meyer and Cristina Rosales of Corporación OSSO, a non-profit and public-good organization based in Cali and devoted to natural hazard and risk research and applications to society. OSSO works closely with the Department of Planning in Cali to develop flood, earthquake and landslide hazard maps. GEM is now assisting OSSO to use the OpenQuake suite of tools for earthquake hazard and risk assessment, which has resulted in a pilot study of earthquake risk in Cali. OSSO has also contributed improvements to GEM’s IDC tools, including a Spanish version of the mobile app. GEM looks forward to working with OSSO in the future on urban risk assessment issues.