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Theses and Dissertations

Name:James Steven Arango
Professor:Heide CastaƱeda

Slope Settlement and Post-Disaster Health Needs of Urban Displacement in La Paz, Bolivia


In 2011, a landslide displaced approximately six thousand people from the urbanized mountain slopes of La Paz, Bolivia. The municipal government of La Paz (GAMLP) managed the displacement by housing thousands of people in displacement camps throughout the city. By 2013, residents were attempting to return to still damaged lands. This research used participant observation and interviews with residents over eight weeks in 2013 to address the following questions: 1) What social, cultural, economic or historic factors influence the settling and then resettling of at-risk slope neighborhoods in La Paz, Bolivia? 2) What are the most pressing health needs of people who have returned to slope neighborhoods and people still living in displacement camps? The research found that the return to at-risk slope properties was supported by entrenched cultural and social meanings attached to land and home ownership. While scarcity of resources galvanized communities to pressure authorities with demonstrations and threats, it also created intra-barrio frictions that disrupted reconstruction, strained existing infrastructure capabilities and threatened to undermine community health.