Botnar Healthy Cities for Adolescents Program - Colombia

Safe Active Routes for Adolescents in Cali



Safe Active Routes for Adolescents in Cali


Cali, Colombia


Start Date: May 1, 2019
End Date: April 30, 2022


Five areas of Cali with high density and low slopes


Santiago de Cali population: 2,420,114
Cali adolescent population: 381,703
Percentage of adolescents in Cali: 16%


Physical activity, obesity, active mobility


Road safety,  personal safety, gender, participatory urban planning,


Social mapping, cartography, geocoding, digital literacy,


Fundación Despacio

About Santiago de Cali

Cali is a secondary city with a population of over 2.4 million people. Cali is one of the most important cities in Colombia next to the capital city of Bogota, home to 8 million residents. As the most important economic, industrial and athletics hub in the southwestern region, Cali’s population has been strongly influenced by migration and forced displacement. The city has the largest Afro-Colombian population in the country. 335 neighborhoods Cali represent 98% of the municipality’s population3 . Cali faces unique social and well-being challenges. It has the highest murder rate in the country (nearly 1200 in 2017), and its geographic location means it suffers many of the problems symptomatic of the armed conflict in Colombia (close to Pacific coast towns of Buenaventura and Tumaco, including high poverty areas with lots of drug trafficking and displaced internal refugees.

About Fundación Despacio

Fundación Despacio is a Colombian research center founded in 2008 and legally established as a non-profit organization in 2011. Its main objective is to promote life-quality in the cities during all the stages of the human life cycle, through applied research that challenges intuition. Despacio centers its work on three issues: city, life, and climate. The organization pursues these three areas via publications, events, and a laboratory and has worked in various projects, publications, and events addressing urban development, urban lighting, sustainable mobility, the promotion of non-motorized transport, motorcycles, road safety, demand management, data analysis, and climate change.

Project Summary

In Cali, 60% of residents and 5% of children 0-4 are overweight. For children aged 5-12, this number is seven times greater (35%), which is mainly due to bad nutrition and inactivity. Safe Active Routes for Adolescents aims to reduce health risks and increase adolescents’ (10-15 years old) physical activity in Cali’s low-income areas by designing and implementing Safe Active Routes for walking and cycling. Through a series of workshops and activities, this initiative is designed to engage adolescents, the wider community and local government to improve the health and well-being of the next generation, while promoting a change in the mobility paradigm towards safer, equitable and sustainable mobility. The project aims to tackle this issue by involving adolescents, the community, the city government and local business in the development of Safe Routes for active modes of transport. The project will include development of a communication strategy to advocate for healthier cities for adolescents and will gather data from adolescents and community members to help city planners understand the infrastructure design features or locations that affect the citizens’ relationship with the built environment and their travel patterns. The project will be monitored and evaluated through Key Performance Indicators on health and the perception of well-being. The information, data and reports generated by this initiative will guide infrastructure planning and the development of public policies around mobility for Cali, other cities in Colombia and beyond.

Consortium Partners

NGO: Fundación Despacio (Lead)
Private Sector: Local shops and businesses
Public Sector: Secretaría de Movilidad de Santiago de Cali and Secretaría
de Educación de Cali
International partners: WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

3 Resilient Cali: A City of Opportunities for Progress, Resilience Strategy. City of Cali

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