Black Colombia in Focus

About Afro-Colombians

Afro-Colombians are Colombians of African descent. Colombia has the third largest black population outside Africa and the second largest in Latin America, after Brazil. The black population is officially 26% of the total population, experts place it between 36-40% or 11 million. Afro-descendants can be found in regions such as Chocó, Buenaventura, Cali, Cartagena, San Andrés and Providencia, and in the rest of the country. Read more: afropedia / afro-colombian . Cali, with more than two million citizens, the third largest city in Colombia, is the capital and economic center of its department, Valle del Cauca. Cali’s GDP was around 6 billion dollars at the end of the 1990s, representing 7% of the national GDP and representing more than half of the department’s GDP. The most important sectors in 1998 were manufacturing (15 percent of the city’s GDP), communal services (22 percent), real estate services (15,9), financial services (11), construction (11) and commerce (9) . The population of the city grew rapidly throughout the 1990s and continues to do so today. Administratively, the metropolitan area of ​​Cali is divided into 21 urban communes (where 94 percent of the population lives) and 4 rural communes. Decentralization in Colombia is increasingly changing the implementation of municipal government programs to the communes, but the general expenditure and income policy is still largely determined by the municipal government and the legislature (the Municipal Council). More than two thirds of Cali’s revenues come from local taxes and central government transfers represent the rest. National government transfers are conditional funds that can only be used for specific purposes, such as health, education or housing. Cali and Valle del Cauca were one of the regions most affected by the economic recession in Colombia in the second part of the 1990s and while the city was in a deep recession, the hands of the municipal government to counteract the national economic trend were tied. The city reached its debt limits at the beginning of 1997 and faced the difficult situation of having to reduce real expenses due to both high debt payments and lower tax revenues. The possibility of initiating an expansive countercyclical fiscal policy was therefore limited. Poverty and misery increased sharply and, according to the National Household Surveys, poverty in the city increased from 29.8% to 390%, while the percentage of the city’s population in misery, defined as not even able to buy A basic food basket doubled and increased from 5.3. percent to 10 percent. In 1998, more than 800,000 people lived in poverty in the city and more than 200,000 in poverty.

In this context, Cali launched a new effort to formulate a city development strategy in 1999. The goal of policymakers was to reduce poverty in the city and the instrument that would be used to answer key questions for urban planning was the Cali Survey, the Access and Perception Survey Service in the Municipality of Cali (EPSOC). The Cali survey was exhaustive and consisted of nine different modules; the home module, the housing and living conditions module, an education, health, nutrition and child care module, a transportation section, labor market and the citizen participation module. The survey was representative of five areas and socioeconomic strata and geographic areas. However, it was the analysis of the welfare characteristics that caught the attention of policy makers and academics / civil society with respect to four findings. First, the link between the labor market, education and poverty, second, the incidence of hunger, third, the low coverage rate of specific health subsidies and, fourth, the geographical aspects of poverty in the city.