Bogotá Sin Hambre Conference
Bogotá Sin Hambre Conference - ©Politécnico Grancolombiano Departamento de Comunicaciones / source:

Bogotá Sin Hambre: Bogota Without Hunger

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Main actors

Local Government, City Government

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Project area

Whole City/Administrative Region

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Ongoing since 2004/02

Bogota has used urban agriculture and farmers markets to help alleviate poverty and undernutrition while addressing ill health.

Aspects of Bogota sin Hambre, particularly urban agriculture farmers' markets, help to alleviate poverty and undernutrition, as well as address the health and nutrition issues related to the obesity problem in Colombia.

The urban agriculture program is run through a partnership between the Botanical Garden and municipal government. The program teaches and encourages participants to grow food in underused spaces. It encourages also using natural methods and offers technical assistance.

Hundreds of soup kitchens in the city have been built or upgraded for the program, helping thus to reduce poverty and chronic malnutrition in Bogota.

Sustainable Development Goals

End poverty in all its forms everywhere
End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Reduce inequality within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Bogotá, Colombia

Size and population development
2011: 8,743,000; 1990: 4,740,000; 2025: 11,369,000; 2010-2015: +2.53% / year

Population composition
Rapid expansion mainly due to rural urban migration

Main functions
Capital City, economic and cultural centre in Colombia

Main industries / business
Food and textile industries, mechanical engineering and electrical industries

Political structure
The city is ruled by a mayor and a city council, both elected by popular vote

Administrative structure
Bogotá is composed of 56 district entities and 20 localities governed by an administrative board

Columbia has the highest rate of internally displaced persons in the world. Thousands of displaced persons migrate to Bogota, which has increased the strain on the new and old urban poor who seed work, housing and food.

Bogota’s current population is 7.4 million with an urban growth rate of 2.3%.

25% of Bogota’s children are malnourished. Obesity rates in the city in 2008 were approx. 18% and nationally, the rate is approx. 40%.

In an effort to reduce extreme poverty and food in security in Bogota, then Mayor Luis Eduardo Garzon instituted an extensive anti-poverty and food security program in 2004. "Bogota Sin Hambre" or "Bogota Without Hunger".

The program teaches and encourages participants to grow food in underused spaces such as patios, terraces and vacant lots, implementing creative and inexpensive means such as using old tires and planters. It also encourages using natural methods, which is cheaper for the farmers and less harmful to the environment while discouraging the use of chemical pesticides.

The program establishes building or upgrading hundreds of soup kitchens that give free lunches to more than 500,000 people daily; developing and organizing a network of farmers’ markets, food stores and cooperatives establishing an urban agriculture program and opening food banks.

The farmers markets, food stores and cooperatives and urban agriculture program serve as the economic development aspects of Bogota Without Hunger. The program provides technical assistance to the public to teach them methods for growing their own food, which also addresses poverty by reducing household spending on food. 

Municipality funded and consists of a multidisciplinary approach addressing both economic development and social safety nets. 

Many considered the program a political success and a good model. The next mayor of Bogota, Samuel Moreno, expanded the program with a second phase— Bogotá Bien Alimentada, or Well-Nourished Bogota—and successive mayors, including Clara López Obregón and current mayor Gustavo Petro Urrego, whose term began in 2012, have continued it. Bogotá Bien Alimentada is at risk of being shut down, however, due to a lack of funding that could trigger closure of some of the comedores eomunitarios, and because of criticism of the quality of food resulting from difficulties procuring nutritious food at low prices.

Between 2004 and today, the rate of chronic malnutrition has decreased by 2.6 percent in children younger than twelve years old, and nearly 700,000 people, including 372,000 schoolchildren in Bogota, benefitted from the program on a daily basis.

Overall, though, this and other Garzón programs reduced poverty from 38.9% to 23% in Bogota between 2004 and 2007, while Colombia's national poverty rate held steady at almost 50%. Internationally, many view Bogotá sin Hambre as a successful model, and the UN's Food and Agriculture Programme recommends using this as a model for other cities, possibly funded by municipal governments or by international organisations.

Some farmers and environmentalists opposed Bogotá sin Hambre under the auspice that they did not benefit from the program; much of the food in the program's soup kitchens and food banks is donated, comes from international supermarket chains, or is imported. Others have criticized it as not being sustainable.

In 2009, the national government passed an anti-obesity law that encourages physical activity and attempts to improve school nutrition by limiting food and beverage marketing. The government has had difficulty implementing the law, however, because of pushback from the processed food and beverage industry.

Wurwarg, J 2014, 'Urbanisation and hunger: Food policies and programs, responding to urbanisation, and benefiting the urban poor in three cities,' Journal of International Affairs, vol 67, pp. 75-90 


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Kathy McConell
Melbourne , Australia

Kathy McConell

Individual | Food System Specialist

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