Project in which the Externado participated, a Colciencias success story

Our House of Studies was one of the five players participating in the project “Water territories and practice and learning networks for the collaborative management of the ‘Borde Sur de Bogotá,’ deemed a success by Colciencias.

Participating in the project were over 70 professionals from different disciplines, members of the Red Territorial de Acueductos Comunitarios de Bogotá, Agrópolis, Empresa de Acueducto y Alcantarillado de Bogotá, the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, and Externado Social and Human Sciences Faculty professors and researchers. They interacted with social and community leaders, agricultural entrepreneurs and students to respond to various questions concerning the role of community aqueducts’ water management practices.

Since 2001, the Externado has been working with communities on the conservation of strategic ecosystems, such as wetlands and moorlands. In developing this initiative, the Social and Human Sciences Faculty created the research group “Social processes, territories, and environment,” classified in Colciencias Category A.In 2012, the Externado won the Colciencias call to develop this project, and in 2013, obtained the funding from Colciencias. The initial group for the project consisted of 30 researchers; in its final stage, there were nine professors and researchers, three graduate and four undergraduate students, all from our House of Studies. Participants from other institutions joined the group.

The project was devised with the communities of Usme and Ciudad Bolívar. The work was carried out with 19 community aqueducts, seeking to build learning communities in schools located in the rural-urban border, areas where Bogotá is expanding.

The project was considered a success for several reasons.  First, the nature of the project corresponds to a tripartite alliance between the academia, public, and civil society, a non-traditional way of doing science. Second, water should be a priority in the country, and these types of projects promote its care and conservation.

Dolly Palacio, the project’s head researcher, has a PhD in Development and Environmental Studies, and a Master’s in Social Development, Planning, and Management from the University of Wales, United Kingdom. She is an Externado Social Worker and associate professor at the Social and Human Sciences Faculty.