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Growing up in adversity: resilience in families affected by the winter

Project Reference: AAGL-0009H

Every disaster event causes obvious physical damage to people and populations affected, and although its psychosocial effects are much less visible they are also important. The hard winter, or rainy season, that hit Colombia in 2010 has caused both physical and psychosocial damage to families and communities.  Understanding the coping mechanisms that affected families have developed to respond to these extremes is crucial in order to develop appropriate public policies and psychological care programs for the victims.

This project aims to validate a model for promoting resilient attitudes in families and communities, which also serves as a prevention strategy, based on an ecological approach to human development. The geographical focus is the rural areas of the Department of Atlántico, Colombia, which were particularly severely affected by the 2010 rainy season. The model for promoting resilience will be built, tested, and validated with 90 families affected by the rainy season.  Specific objectives of the projects are:

– To develop a baseline for identifying resilient attitudes in families affected by the cold wave in rural areas of the department of Atlántico.

– To build a model for promoting resilience according to the “Self-Assessment, Self-Regulation Skills, Social Skills, from the ecological perspective of human development” approach (Amar, Abello, Kotliarenco, Evans 2004).

– To validate the model for the promotion of resilience in families that were victims of the rainy season, on the basis of  the ecological approach to human development in rural areas of the department of Atlántico.

– To support the development of public policies and psychological care programmes in the targeted communities.

Project outputs include a results report, a book publication, articles in relevant magazines, and a documentary film.

In August 2012, the project team organised one information event for the beneficiary families in Manati, presenting the objectives and scope of the project. This kick-off meeting was followed by two workshops aimed at recognising resilient attitudes and one day of “story-telling” during which members of the community shared their personal stories in relation to the events of the 2010 winter. In the meanwhile, the project team has started delivering psychological first aid to individual families, developed a resilience scale (which was tested on 30 families) as a diagnostic intervention tool, and designed a SMS multimedia alert system for the families in Manati. Photographs and video records of the project are being collected, and will result in a documentary film.

The project has also investigated the particular needs of children in post-disaster situations. Preliminary research results have been transformed into policy advice, in turn leading to the construction a new building near the temporary local shelter in Manati, aimed at supporting children in the community. The “Hogar” (in English: “Home”) Centre was inaugurated in December 2012, and is a 3-floor building in Manati, situated in the neighbourhood that was most harshly affected by the 2010 flood. The building has been built over stilts in order to enhance its resiliency to potential future floods. The “Hogar” will be used as a place for the socialisation and education of children.

An article New approach to health considering the resilience has been published in the Revista Científica Salud Uninorte (In Spanish Nuevo abordaje de la salud considerando la resiliencia with English summary), which you can access here.

The project closure event takes place in November 2013 and project outputs will include a results report, one book, articles in relevant magazines, and a documentary film.

Links to videos

Presentación del proyecto “Creciendo en la Adversidad”

Creciendo en la adversidad CDKN-Uninorte, Experiencia Destacada 1

Creciendo en la adversidad CDKN-Uninorte, Experiencia Destacada 2

Additional information

So far, the project has received publicity in national newspapers and web-sites, and has produced an educational blog.

Lead: Jose Amar (Fundación Universidad del Norte, Colombia)

Project Partners: For the development of the child, family and community Foundation (Colombia); North Medical Center Foundation (Colombia)

CDKN funding: £200,000

CDKN contact: Guillermo Llinás and Sebastian Kratzer


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