Generating Change

Joining expertise from the environmental sciences, transport and geomatics engineering, design, urban planning, entrepreneurship and sociology.

The project will address key SDGs (5, 6, 9, 10, 11 and 16), by embedding the voices of residents in these settlements, into ongoing initiatives such as the Territories of Inclusion and Opportunities in Cali, and the Master Plan in Havana Bay.


Cali is known for its urban development in the valley of the Cauca River. However, since the second half of the twentieth century, the hills of the western side have been populated by diverse communities, with a predominance of popular neighbourhoods. For GREAT, the word laderiar refers to the community practices of social construction of habitat and solidarity gathering of often ignored communities that have not had the support for the development of existing housing and basic infrastructure normally found in the so-called “formal city”.

The process by which different urban actors carry out actions aimed at improving the quality of life of the inhabitants of popular neighborhoods with precarious conditions. In Cali, the Comprehensive Habitat Upgrading Policy was adopted in 2017 (Municipal Agreement 411) and, within this legal framework, GREAT supports CHU processes in which the voices and efforts of the communities are recognized and included so that the programmes are the result of shared management and community participation.

The procedure to carry out the legal recognition of informal settlements as formal neighbourhoods in the city, based on an analysis of the current conditions and possibilities for incorporation into the city’s infrastructure and regulations. The areas of informal settlements that occupy environmentally protected land and high-risk zones cannot be legalised and the housing that occupies them must be part of a resettlement programme. The four neighbourhoods in which GREAT is focused are the first pilot of urban legalisation in Cali.

Jeep type (all-terrain) service vehicles, modified in their chassis and motor to meet the needs of mobility in the hillside area (with steep slopes and unpaved roads); and in their bodywork, to be able to carry a larger number of passengers (between 16 and 18).

Commonly called mototaxi, it is an informal (unregulated), individual, and discrecional public transport service,   that is carried out on motorbikes and is intended to provide mobility issues in areas where the formal service is inefficient or non-existent. It is flexible in terms of fares and routes and, therefore, the service may detour from standard routes or be provided door-to-door. In Cali, this type of transport is very attractive due to its short travel times. Drivers are also known as “motorratones”.

Strategies that people in the neighbourhood use to get around within the neighbourhoods and around the city. In the case of the hillside area, the inhabitants get together as a community to help their neighbours move around, generating support networks and also income.

These include people’s movement practices and patterns, which allow them to link their activities and their journeys.

Corresponds to those journeys that are more complex and diverse, of a polygonal type (more than one stop) and with a greater number of reasons and modes of travel, among which the following stand out: caring for children, the elderly and people with functional diversity, shopping trips, household chores, domestic cleaning services, among others. These trips are mostly made by women and mothers who are heads of households.

The strategy aimed at reducing the generation and final disposal of solid waste, prioritising its prevention, reuse and recovery, thus contributing to the conservation of resources, to environmental and social justice and to dignifying the work of waste pickers. 

Practice for the transformation of bio-waste (kitchen and garden waste), the controlled decomposition of which generates a soil improver that is subsequently used in household gardens and/or vegetable gardens. In the study area in Cali, other bio-waste treatment practices are carried out, such as the direct use of the shells to fertilise plants and animal feed.

Surplus product or material, of zero or marginal value to its owner and which the owner wishes to discard. When it can be of use to others, it is called usable waste, otherwise it is called non-usable waste.

It is one of the essential steps for the treatment and recovery of solid waste after its generation. It consists of segregation into at least three fractions: recyclable, bio-waste and non-recyclable.

Transforming waste so that it can be re-used as raw material for the production of new products. In the study area in Cali, this word is used to refer to the action of separating recyclable waste produced in the household, and giving it away or selling it in recycling warehouses in the sector.

Are people who are dedicated to the recovery of recyclable materials that they receive directly from generators or that they find in the streets, without affecting the conditions of cleanliness given their knowledge and experience to carry out this activity. They have been recognised for their constant struggle for respect, remuneration and differentiated collection of solid waste.

Fun facts about waste pickers:

  • According to the Inter-American Development Bank, Latin America and the Caribbean has more than 2 million waste pickers, who contribute more than 50% of the material that is recovered.
  • The study “Advances and Challenges for Inclusive Recycling: Evaluation of 12 cities in Latin America and the Caribbean” found that in this region the majority of people who dedicate themselves to this work are women (80%), poor, from marginalised neighbourhoods to which they arrive fleeing some kind of violence, but far from escaping, they encounter discrimination and stigmatisation for their work, which is sometimes the only livelihood opportunity.


We are a partnership between Lancaster University, UCL, Universidad del Valle (Colombia), and Universidad Tecnológica de La Habana Jose Antonio Echeverría (Cuba).


We are rethinking the off-grid city- would you like to know how?