In Colombia, floatable housing a solution for adapting to climate change

Americas Now

In Colombia, floatable housing a solution for adapting to climate change

This week’s “Game Changer” is Lina Marcela Cataño Bedoyo. Her mission is to make floatable housing solutions for the adaption to climate change.

With over 350 fatalities, two million people displaced and an estimated $6 billion worth of damages, the rainy seasons of 2010 and 2011 proved to be devastating for Colombia. The heavy rains triggered landslides and mass floods throughout the country. Many attribute these heavy, reoccurring rains to climate change, and believe they’ll continue to deluge the country for future seasons to come. In fact, Colombia has the highest amount of natural disasters in Latin America, of which flooding constitutes almost one third.

Sempegua is a small town in Colombia’s Cesar province that experiences the most floods each year. Situated on the border of the Magdalena River’s vast wetlands, it is a high risk area for the effects of climate change, and consequently requires some sort of mitigation. Fortunately, it is also the place where Lina Marcela Cataño, 28, has put her imagination and engineering skills to use. Her mission is to make floatable housing solutions, so that the local population can adapt to the challenges it faces ahead.

The original idea came from Lina’s graduate school thesis: amphibious infrastructures that could resist heavy flooding like Sempegua repeatedly endures. Her pilot project was a classroom that floats like a stationary boat, anchored to posts that are two meters high. When the water comes in slowly, the classroom starts floating. The amphibious schoolhouse has a very simple system to work. According to Lina, the building of three of these classrooms in Colombia could be the start of floatable solutions implemented around the world.

“If we think that this is replicable for the most vulnerable and poorest communities, then we will be able to see this not only in Latin America but also as a global proposal for countries in Asia and Africa.”

Meet Game Changer Lina Marcela Cataño Bedoya.

On Twitter: @Kiwiontwerp, @USAID_Colombia, @EAFIT, UNDP, @WisdomTreeETFs, @UNGRD, @saraHdezHdez