Building resilience through art

Building resilience through art

Five decades of armed conflict have left Colombia with almost eight million internally displaced people, 16% of country’s population. Though the 2016 agreement between the Colombian government and FARC (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) was an important step towards attaining peace, many Colombians displaced by violence now face new forms of risk in the places they have resettled.

The South American country is highly vulnerable to hazards, including floods, drought, earthquakes and volcanic eruption, while the rugged topography means that landslides are common. According to the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD), around 20 million people were affected by disasters in Colombia between 2000 and 2019, many of them in areas inhabited by internally displaced people.

UEA’s Dr Hazel Marsh, Prof Roger Few and Dr Teresa Armijos Burneo worked with a team of researchers from Universidad de Manizales, Colombia, to understand how people displaced by armed conflict become exposed to greater risk from environmental hazards. The team worked alongside resettled people to share their stories, in their voices and artistic styles, thereby strengthening awareness of displaced people’s experiences, abilities and needs.

Their collaborative, arts-based approach to knowledge-exchange not only yielded key research findings but also built trust with Indigenous and traditionally marginalised groups and helped generate new support networks and community initiatives among some of the most disadvantaged social groups in the country. The success of their work has informed the development of inclusive institutional programmes aimed at strengthening Colombia’s capacity to manage and reduce risk and the project – and the methodologies used – have helped shift perceptions, practices and policies both inside and outside of resettled marginalised communities in Colombia.

So successful was the approach that their art-based methodologies have now been incorporated into post-graduate courses at the Universidad de Manizales’ Psychosocial Institute for Disaster Risk Management.

Sign In


Reset Password

Please enter your username or email address, you will receive a link to create a new password via email.