Presenting my Colombian case study area

During the last two weeks, I was in Bogotá to talk to experts from the IER at the Javeriana University as well as the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development to find out about public support for joint capacity building in rural Colombia. Now, I am back in the department of Santander to start my field work.

In order to be able to do an in-depth study of a) how support for joint capacity building in rural areas is organized and b) how this support is evaluated by its beneficiaries, I narrowed my case study area down to one municipality: Floridablanca.

Main square in Floridablanca

Floridablanca is a mountainous municipality of 100 km² located at (an average of) 925 metre above sea level. To the North, Floridablanca shares borders with the municipality of Bucaramanga, the departmental capital of Santander.

In 2005, Floridablanca had a population of around 250.000 inhabitants, although, according to its municipality, numbers are likely to be around 300.000 inhabitants by now. Over the past 50 years, the municipality has seen a strong urbanization, resulting in 97.5 % of the population living in the city of Floridablanca  and only 2.5% (e.g. ~ 7000 inhabitants) living in rural Floridablanca in 2005. Area-wise, however, the municipality is mainly rural (as the picture below shows).

Source: Municipality of Floridablanca

Together with the municipalities of Bucaramanga, Piedecuesta and Girón, Floridablanca forms the development unit Metropolitan area of Bucaramanga. It focusses on developing and connecting its urban centres, creating attractive residential and recreational areas, and stimulating economic growth. Within this development unit, Floridablanca is considered to be a residential area for commuters who work in Bucaramanga, and it is and given largely residential and recreational potential.

The development unit of the metropolitan area- and the residential and recreational focus of Floridablanca in particular- appears to be largely comparable to the regional development plans of the region North Netherland and its influence on development in the Westerkwartier.

Like in the region North Netherlands, and particularly in my case study area the Westerkwartier, the question thus arises: “How the focus on and development advances in close-by urban centres affects and shapes the development of rural regions on their fringes?”

Looking down at Floridablanca from La Judia

The similarities in development structures of the region North Netherlands and the metropolitan area of Bucaramanga, as well as the Westerkwartier and rural Floridablanca in particular, invite for a comparative study between these two peri-urban areas… Stay tuned 🙂

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