About the City of Bogotá


Republic of Colombia


8.7 million (UN 2011 estimate)

Social composition

  • School enrolment: 98,7% (2006) and illiteracy rate of 1,8% (compared to 9,6% for the national average)1
  • Average income (GVA per capita, 2012): US$15,8912
  • Income distribution (GINI index, 2001): 0.583
  • Ethnoracial composition
  • Religious affiliation

Geographical features

Bogotá is located 2640 m above sea level, in a savannah of the high plateau of the eastern Andean mountains. 

The city is framed by a mountain system mainly in the East and is crossed by important rivers such as the Tunjuelo, Fucha and Juan Amarillo —located in the southern area of the city— which flow into the highly polluted Bogotá River.

Bogotá is located in an intermediate seismic zone. Seismic activity is associated with 3 seismogenic zones: the subduction in the Pacific Coast, the eastern and foot hill faulting system, which is the most dangerous one, and other minor local faults

The city lies in a region that is considered a natural reserve and is protected by environmental laws. The region, called Sumapaz, is larger than the city itself. It is considered one of the largest barren plateaus in the world. 

Climatic conditions

Bogotá experiences subtropical highland climate. The average temperature is 14°C, varying from 3°C to 20 °C. The driest months are December, January, July and August while the rainiest months are April, May, September, October and November. The warmest month is March, with a maximum of 19.7 °C.

Hazards & Vulnerabilities

 Local climate hazards

During the last century, Bogotá suffered the impact of several damaging

A number of landslides and floods occurred during extreme rainy periods or El Niño events, particularly those in 1997-1998 and more recently in 2010-2011.

Local vulnerabilities and main expected climate change impact

A: Vunerable areas

1) Floods: particularly in the Tunjuelo River Basin (South). This region includes 35% of Bogota's population.

Recent recorded floods include:

  • The Tunjuelito River Flood (2002), when 2109 people lost their homes; unfortunately, economic loss assessments have not been conducted.
  • In December 2011 (see Photos 1 and 2), a state of emergency was declared following heavy rains: 10,000 people were left homeless in the southwest of the city.

2) Landslides are very common during heavy rains. The frequency and socio-economic effects of landslides are impacted by various factors including informal urban development and building on landslide prone hillsides and inadequate access to safe and secure housing. The city’s built area totals 48.000 hectares, 910 of them being in landslide-prone zones. In particular, Ciudad Bolivar (South-East) is particularly vulnerable.

3) Seismic activity: the areas that are prone to seismic risk include Usme (South-East), Bosa (South-West), Ciudad Bolivar (South), and San Cristobal (South-East). These are not related to climate change, of course, but will combine with and exacerbate climate impacts.

4) Wild fires also take place regularly because of drastic temperature changes.

B: Vulnerable groups

During the last thirty years, the city has experienced an aggressive and disorganized urbanization process that has pushed informal settlers to build their homes in highly unstable landslide zones on hillslopes, filled-in ravines or in areas that are prone to flooding.
According to the Informal Settlements statistics (2003), 18% of the urban area has been occupied by informal constructions, housing almost 1,400,000 people. This is about 22% of the urban population. Most of these settlements are located in Ciudad Bolivar (South); San Cristobal (South-East); Tunjuelo River Basin (South);  Bosa (South-West) and Usme (South-East).

C: Expected climate change impacts

Results are based on 19 GCM Models from 4th IPCC Assessment Report (2007), A2 scenario4

Predictions for general climatic characteristics:

  • The average annual rainfall will increase from 2208 millimetres to 2278 millimetres in 2050.
  • Temperatures will increase by 2.2°C on average by 2050, and by 1.2°C by 2030.
  • The mean daily temperature range will increase from 9.6 °C to 9.8°C in 2050.
  • The maximum number of cumulative dry months will decrease from 3 to 2 months.

Extreme conditions:

  • The maximum temperature of the year will increasefrom 26.7°C to 29.4°C while the warmest quarter will be 2.3°C warmer in 2050.
  • The minimum temperature of the year will increase from 15°C to 16.9°C while the coldest quarter will be 2°C warmer in 2050.
  • The wettest month will have an average rainfall of 332 millimetres, an increase from the current average of 318 millimetres, while rainfall during the wettest quarter will increase by 33 mm in 2050.
  • The driest month will receive slightly more rainfall, with 56 millimetres instead of 52 millimetres, while rainfall during the driest quarter will increase by 16 mm in 2050.

Climate seasonality:

  • Overall the climate becomes more seasonal in terms of variability  of temperature and precipitation throughout the year.

These progressive climate changes represent an additional obstacle for the protection rural livelihoods in the region around Bogotá. Indeed, if the increase of temperature materialises, many crops that are essential for the region’s food security will decline, and as a consequence producers will have to migrate uphill. Therefore, the central departments and highland regions of Colombia will be heavily affected.  The highlands are also the source of water supplies for many families and farms located on the hillsides and grasslands downstream. Thus, an upward migration of crops will likely cause more deforestation and change of land-use in the highlands, damaging ecosystems, the sustainability of small-holder agriculture and therefore many rural livelihoods.

Coping Mechanisms/ Adaptation measures

What is done on a political level?

Regarding Disaster Risk Management, the city of Bogotá has undertaken important efforts. Since the mid-1980s the  local and national authorities have been promoting more effective coordination among different actors involved in the whole process of Disaster Risk Management. National level policy for risk management has developed, with policy emphasis shifting from not only responding to emergencies, but also planning for risk management5. Legal provisions include:

  • Decree 919/1989, Establishment of the National Secretary for Disaster Prevention and Attention.
  • 1547 Act, National Calamity Fund is Established
  • 60 Act/1993, Pre-assigned resources for Disaster Prevention and 
Attention from the national budget.
  • 99 Act/1993, Safe Environment Law
  • Decree 969/1995, National Network of Natural Reserves
  • 388 Act/1997, National Land Development Plan
  • 400 Act/1998, Seismic Code becomes a national law
  • Decree 93/1998, National Plan for Disaster Prevention and Attention
  • Decree 332/2004, District Plan for Disaster Prevention and Attention

A: Main stakeholders responsible for the disaster risk reduction management

Bogotá developed a District Emergency Prevention and Relief System (Sistema distrital para la prevención y atención de emergencias, SDPAE). Like its national equivalent –SNPAD–, it intends to be a multi-sector and inter-agency network of public and private entities. This system is coordinated by the Directorate of Emergency Prevention and Relief (Dirección para la Prevención y Atención de Emergencias, DPAE). The main objective of the SDPAE is to achieve integrated risk management to prevent disasters. It incorporates (a) a district committee composed of all the entities that play a significant part in risk prevention and management, (b) local emergency committees responsible for emergency prevention and relief, and (c) technical commissions in key areas.
SDPAE is financed by the Emergency Relief and Prevention Fund (Fondo para la Prevención y Atención de Emergencias, FOPAE, figure 2)
SDPAE includes 25 institutions that are linked with the following sectors: government, finance, planning and economic development, industry and tourism, security and peaceful coexistence, education and health, social integration, culture, recreation and sports, environment, transportation and housing.
Furthermore, the role of the DPAE is to establish risk management policy, prepare technical studies, and coordinate disaster prevention, mitigation, and relief activities.
Other stakeholders involved with hazard management include the Bogotá Water and Sewerage Company (Empresa de Acueducto y Alcantarillado de Bogotá - EAAB), which is responsible for flood control, and the Low-income Population Housing Agency (Caja de Vivienda Popular - CVP), which is in charge of resettling families living in high-risk areas. In addition, public utility and transportation entities play a very important role for emergency relief, as well as the police, army, firefighters, and civil defense units.
A number of international agencies have also been involved with risk management in Bogota. Both the United Nations and World Bank have provided substantial technical and financial assistance to Colombia through the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery6.

B:Major adaptation plans

Through the adoption of the Emergency Prevention and Attention Plan (PDPAE) by the city of Bogota, a ten-year risk management policy has been formulated. This long-term plan has been developed following the Decree 332 (2004), which regulates and organizes the DSPAE. This Master Plan is a pioneer in the country7 ; it notably includes:

1)    Risk management policy for the period 2005-2015
2)    Responsible institutions/agencies
3)    Strategic areas and sectors
4)    Objectives, goals and indicators
5)    Programs and projects

In addition, the city developed the Without Indifference Plan (2004-2008), which aims to promote citizens’ awareness on risk management and prevention.
Other key programmes focusing on illegal settlement and resettlement have been formulated since the end of the 1990s. In 1998, a programme aimed at improving illegal settlements has been adopted. This programme is particularly important, as more than 175,000 inhabitants arrive in Bogota each year. The major goal of the programme is the legalisation of these areas as to improve the living conditions and functions. There have been 620 000 beneficaries of the programme. In 2000, the government legalized 147 settlements (1,150 ha) only in Ciudad Bolivar, and 450 settlements around the city.

Following this programme, the Land Use Plan (Plan de Ordenamietno Territorial, POT) has been adopted in 2000 for a period of ten years under the Enrique Penalosa's Administration. This programme included low-cost housing projects for low-income households, comprehensive slum upgrading programs and resettlement for the population located in high-risk areas. This programme aimed at moving households to safe, suitable houses in another part of the city, thus strengthening their social and economic inclusion. In addition, steps were also taken to monitor the occupation of land that are unsuitable for urbanization, in order to limit the number of resettled people.
The administration has also implemented macro programmes, notably the "Local Risk Management Strategy" and the "Implementation of the Earthquake Response Plan" in Bogotá.

What adaptation measure is in place (physically)?

From 1997-2007, 21,490 households and productive units (in industry and trade) were resettled


1Juan David Parra, B.S. 2009. « Education and Public Policy in Bogota: Guarding the Public Interest ». Bogota (Colombia): GIST Journal.

2Brookings Institution (2012) ‘Global Metro Monitor’, Brookings analysis of data from Oxford Economics, Moody’s Analytics, and the U.S. Census Bureau

3Cervero, Robert (2005) ‘Progressive transport and the poor’, Access, Berkeley Institute for Transport Studies, Number 27,

4A. Eitzinger, P. Läderach, A. Quiroga, A. Pantoja, A. Benedikter, C. Bunn, J. Gordon. July 2011 « Case Study : Bogota. Impact of climate change on  
   Bogotá’s food security and smallholder’s livelihoods ». CIAT, Cali : Colombia.

5 Zeiderman, Austin (2012) ‘On shaky ground: the making of risk in Bogota’, Environment and Planning A, Volume 44, pages 1570 – 1588.

6 Ibid. See also Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, 2009, “Disaster risk management programs for priority countrie,  
   The World Bank, International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, Washington, DC, p. 224, 229.

7The innovation of the plan lies in type of planning used in its formulation: instead of a traditional risk-planning based on hazards or
   risk management policies, it is based on a systemic approach.

Europe The work leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme under Grant Agreement No. 308497
Project RAMSES - Reconciling Adaptation, Mitigation and Sustainable Development for Cities.