Active Grants: 1

GDP (current US$): 309.19 billion (2017)

Population: 49.07 million (2017)

Major Partners

European Union, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, World Bank

INFORM Risk Rating: 5.4

Risk data from INFORM, a global open-source risk assessment for humanitarian crises and disasters, uses a scale from 0-10, with 10 as the highest level of risk.

Primary Hazards


Natural Hazard Risk

Colombia is a country with high exposure to natural hazards, including cyclones, coastal and river flooding, earthquakes, landslides, and volcanoes. It has the highest recurrence of extreme hazard events in South America, with 84 percent of the population and 86 percent of assets exposed to two or more hazards.

The country’s tropical climate lends to heavy and frequent rains, a condition altered by El Niño and La Niña phenomena. The 2010–11 La Niña rainy season affected approximately 3.5 million people and caused unprecedented economic losses and damages from flash floods, landslides, and other hazard events. More recently in 2017 and 2018, a series of landslides and floods affected the country nationwide, leaving hundreds dead and thousands of livelihoods disrupted.  

Although hydro-meteorological events represent most disaster-related losses, 86 percent of the population live in medium- and high-risk seismic areas. With more than 20 active volcanoes, about 1.9 million people located in areas at-risk, of whom 240,000 at high risk.

Colombia has one of the highest urbanization rates in Latin America, with significant portions of the population living in poorly planned urban areas, informal settlements, and densely populated coastal areas. This, coupled with the effects of climate change, is exacerbating damages and losses caused by flooding and landslides. By 2060, the sea level on both coastlines (Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean) could increase by 40–60 centimeters from 1961–90 levels, putting millions of coastal inhabitants and gross domestic product at greater risk from flooding, storm surge and other natural hazards.

Government Priorities

Colombia’s commitment to disaster risk reduction dates back to the 1983 Popayan mega-disaster, a volcanic eruption that triggered an avalanche and earthquakes. The government responded by creating a disaster preparedness and response system. In 1989, the National System for Disaster Management and Prevention consolidated and shifted the system to disaster risk management (DRM). Since then, DRM has remained a central theme of the government’s policy program.

The 2014 National Policy for Disaster Risk Management represents a comprehensive DRM approach. The policy is implemented in part through the National Development Plan 2014–18, which prioritizes fiscal risk management. Other areas of national focus include minimizing loss of life, reducing the exposure of assets, and financing rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts, all of which have led the country to be considered a pioneer for DRM in Latin America.  

  • Adapting coastal infrastructure to climate change;
  • Continuing to integrate DRM into urban land-use planning;   
  • Integrating resilience into public investment and development planning at the municipal level; and,
  • Increasing financial resilience to disasters through innovative financial solutions. 
GFDRR progress to date

GFDRR’s current support in Colombia has largely focused around housing and urban resilience. Starting in FY18, GFDRR technical assistance is fostering the use of innovative financing mechanisms to expand access to social services and affordable housing that is resilient. Activities are also supporting the Government of Colombia to include DRM principles in the country’s housing policy and housing retrofit and rental programs, thereby helping to better understand how to decrease the housing qualitative deficit.

Previously, during FY13, GFDRR activities provided the government with expertise on a better way to manage its budget during a natural disaster. This includes advisory services to develop a prototype financial risk management decision tool, allowing policy-makers to design and to evaluate different catastrophe management options.

Additionally, in 2012, GFDRR enabled a dialogue among Andean countries for regional collaboration and exchange of DRM best practices. Building on this, GFDRR supported similar work in 2016 to analyze World Bank projects implemented in Central American and Andean countries, distilling and communicating lessons learned and best practices.

In the aftermath of the 2010–11 La Niña rainy season, GFDRR prepared an analysis of DRM in Colombia. This work helped identify gaps and consolidate Colombia’s DRM framework, improving municipal disaster planning and strengthening inter-agency coordination.

In 2010, GFDRR supported the district of Barranquilla to address severe flooding problems, including by developing a methodology to create a national risk inventory of settlements. That same year, GFDRR financed a probabilistic risk assessment of Bogota under the CAPRA program  to better inform public policies, planning, and development strategies for the capital district. These risk assessments informed $100 million in government financing, and World Bank support, for DRM activities.

In 2008, GFDRR supported probabilistic catastrophe risk modeling in the capital city of Bogotá. In 2012, GFDRR assisted the city again to prepare a Rio Bogotá Dynamic River Management Plan, ensuring infrastructure investments in dikes and reservoirs are optimally used to minimize flood risk.

GFDRR anticipates continued demand from the Government of Colombia in the following areas:     

  • Strengthening social protection systems to rapidly respond to the needs of the poor and vulnerable in the aftermath of disasters;
  • Enhancing DRM and resilience in urban and coastal areas, including Medellin and Barranquilla; 
  • Integrating global best practices for DRM into municipal planning; and, 
  • Supporting the integration of resilience into housing policy.  

Grants Awarded by GFDRR 2007 - Present

World Bank Engagements 2012 – Present

Project Description
Colombia Sustainable Development Investment Project - Additional Financing
$10 million | Start date: 04/2012 (Closed)

The development objective of the project was to support the development and implementation of policy reforms and related investments in line with the sustainable development policy loan program framework, particularly those policies and investments that address environmental problems affecting the quality of life and well-being of the Colombian population.

Second Disaster Risk Management Development Policy Loan with Catastrophe Deferred Draw Down Option
$250 million | Start date: 04/2013 (Ongoing)

The project development objective is to strengthen the Government's program for reducing risks resulting from adverse natural events. The Bank's engagement focuses on: the modernization of the national disaster risk management system; improvements in the application of disaster risk analysis and management in policy making at the sectoral and territorial levels; and strengthening disaster risk management at subnational levels.

Second Programmatic Fiscal Sustainability and Growth Resilience Development Policy Loan
$200 million | Start date: 04/2013 (Closed)

The development objectives of the project were to enhance fiscal sustainability and strengthen resilience of economic growth.

Productive and Sustainable Cities Development Policy Loan
$150 million | Start date: 04/2013 (Closed)

The objective of the program was to support the strengthening of the Government of Colombia’s policy framework on productive and sustainable cities. Specifically, the program supported policy and regulatory reforms that aimed to: (a) improve access to basic water and sanitation and urban transport, and mitigate vulnerability to natural disasters for the urban poor; (b) promote the provision of affordable and safe low-income housing solutions; (c) strengthen the ability of subnational entities to coordinate and finance the structuring and implementation of regional and metropolitan development initiatives; and (d) improve the productivity of the system of cities through improved connectivity within the network of cities and between cities and ports to external markets.

Second Programmatic Productive & Sustainable Cities Development Policy Loan
$700 million | Start date: 04/2015 (Closed)

The objective of the program was to strengthen the Government of Colombia’s (GoC) policy framework on productive, sustainable and inclusive cities.

Programmatic Development Policy Loan for Sustainable Development
$700 million | Start date: 04/2016 (Closed)

The project supported the overarching green growth strategy through following two pillars: (i) establishing a set of policy and institutional measures for green growth in transport, energy, environmental health, and disaster risk management; and (ii) improving environmental quality by reducing particulate matter (PM) in the air; strengthening regulatory and economic instruments for reducing water pollution; and increasing capacity for solid waste disposal and enhancing waste recycling.

Colombia Territorial Development Development Policy Loan
$800 million | Start date: 12/2016 (Closed)

The development objective of this project was to support the efforts of the Government of Colombia to strengthen institutions for land management and territorial planning; and to improve subnational financial management and investment prioritization. The operation builds on, and complements a portfolio of current and previous World Bank operations and analytical work in the areas of urban and rural development, land management, decentralization, financial management and subnational governance.

Enhancing Waterway Connectivity and Water Service Provision in Colombia’s Plan Pazcifico
$41.9 million | Start date: 12/2017 (Ongoing)

The objective of the Enhancing Waterway Connectivity and Water Service Provision in Pazcifico Project for Colombia is to improve: (a) waterway transport; and (b) coverage and quality of water supply and sanitation services, in the Participating Municipalities.

Second Sustainable Development and Green Growth DPL
$500 million | Start date: 12/2017 (Ongoing)

The development objective of the Second Sustainable Development and Green Growth Development Policy Financing Project for Colombia is to support a set of policy and institutional measures for (i) green growth in transport, energy, environmental health and natural resources; and, (ii) improving environmental quality by reducing PM 2.5 in the air, strengthening regulations for sanitation, and increasing capacity to reuse and dispose solid waste.