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Bogotá Care Blocks

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Nationwide the unpaid care burden falls disproportionately on women, reaching alarming proportions in the city of Bogotá: 30% of the city's female population are full-time unpaid caregivers, of which 90% are low-income; 33% lack time for self-care; and 70% hold only primary school. To mitigate undesired effects, and that the burden of the home-care increases the vulnerability of (already) neglected women, the city of Bogotá has recently launched the "Care Block" initiative to centralize key services for female caregivers to improve their well being and to reduce the time women dedicate to unpaid jobs/tasks. Furthermore, the Care Blocks have put women at the center of Bogotá's urban transformation and future planning. The first Care Block was piloted in Ciudad Bolivar and, nowadays, there are 11 of such Blocks across Bogotá.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

30% of the female population living in Bogotá are devoted to full-time unpaid care work, with a dedication average of 10 hours per day. Among women, this burden affects disproportionately to low-income ones, whose opportunities for political participation and self-care are hampered due to the care work overload. For instance, gender inequality, considerable lost of political participation, as well as the entrenchment of financial opportunities and domestic violence are reinforced by these gender-based role allocations. Several poverty drivers are also reinforced by such unfair time allocation on women's back; for example, only in 2021 the impact of women's unpaid work accounted for around 13% of Colombia's and 20% of Bogotá's GDP respectively.

In a study carried out by the Bogotá's Secretary of Women's Affairs, it was found worrisome the high levels of neglecting among full-time caregivers: 70% of them did not get to pursue beyond primary school, 33% are deprived of leisure and self-care time, whereas 21% have been diagnosed with untreated chronic illnesses. Not to mention that 90% of these women fall into the lowest threshold of income.

The pandemic has exacerbated these undesired patters for women, compromising the city of Bogotá to take action to mitigate them and allow women to live in well being. While the pandemic was still ongoing, the authorities designed and piloted the first city-level care system in Latin America based on Care Blocks, where it would be possible to access to centralized services provided by the city authorities, as well as those run by the National Government, some of the private sector and even few communal/houselhold-driven ones. The focus of these services are on personal development, self-care, income generation and engagement / political participation.

The Care Blocks aim to recognize the contribution of caregivers, to redistribute the responsibility of care-taking more equitably, and to reduce the proportion of women's unpaid care work so that they can pursue personal development activities. In this sense, the project is innovative by design, which simultaneously provides professional assistance to those in need together with educational and leisure opportunities for caregivers whose time is freed-up as a consequence of hyper-targeted and intensive delivery of public services. For example, while a caregiver enrolls in a program to complete high school, her grandchild can take part in playful activities that are also adapted to people with disabilities or any physical limitation. Furthermore, the Care Block also offers learning services for men where they  undergo through several home tasks (i.e., ironing, baby care, household financial organization).

The Care Blocks offer a context-specific solution for an acute challenge using a radical, ease-of-access modality at a level that has never been tested before. They introduce a new criterion for the city's urban planning that positions women, caregivers and care work right at the center to organize several of the city's services. The Blocks' locations enhance the use of each district's facilities in favor of caregivers in what they call "anchor building" to ensure that services can be accessed within a 15-20 minute walk only, the equivalent to an 800-meter walk around the vicinity almost eliminating the need to use public transport. For citizens that live in rural and peripheral areas of Bogotá, far from a Care Block, the city has implemented Care Buses to guarantee mobility and access to services. In addition, a Care Home Delivery program was designed for the 14% of full-time female caregivers who cannot access to the Block's services or premises - the program delivers services to both caregivers and those who require special care in their own households. The Care Blocks were inspired in Uruguay's National Care System.

It is the first time that Bogotá's Urban Master Plan has a clear gender approach by including the women-oriented Care Blocks at the core of its territorial planning - It aims for an equitable and safe city for women and people in all their diversity. This political and policy action will allow to ensure the Block's sustainability over time, in particular as 45 Care Blocks are expected to be launched by 2035 , of which 20 of them are expect to be completely implemented by the end of the current administration in late 2023.

The Care Blocks have been working closely with the city's innovation Lab (iBO) in the enhancement and streamlining of the registration process of caregivers, so that they can seamlessly access to the full range of services. The objective is to improve the citizens experience through easing up the data input and registration processes that will enable the development of a robust data system for service delivery purposes and for decision making according to specific characteristics (i.e., women, men, children, people with disabilities, etc.).

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

Before the Care Blocks all the services offered from the city were mostly siloed, widespread across the city and/or centralized in few areas, which will limit its impact. Furthermore, as they were time consuming caregivers would not only have difficulties accessing to them, but simply won't use them despite their needs. It was also difficult to address societal goals related to the perpetuation or impediment of women to gain access to need-specific support.

The Care Blocks are innovative because they: 1) place caregivers at the center of the policy and service delivery design, 2) re-organize the city to meet people's needs, instead of the other way around, 3) address the inequality of the care burden from a cultural and societal perspective, thus ensuring long-term sustainable change. For a big city like Bogotá the most innovative aspects of the Care Blocks are on the "how" services are provided and the interoperability among them.

What is the current status of your innovation?

Between October 2020 and September 2022 Bogotá has added up 12 Care Blocks, 2 Care Buses and has created a Care Home Delivery program. All together they have provided services to over 200,000 people. 20 more Care Blocks will be added by the end of 2023, and the current Mayor seeks to implement a total number of 45 Care Blocks by the end of 2035 as part of the city's commitment to its citizens and of its membership of "the Multiple Allied City Networks".

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

The Care Blocks cannot be sustained without a vibrant network of committed partners and stakeholders, including the civil society. It has built the Care Alliance as a network of actors that cluster the private sector, NGOs, the academia and many other locally-based organizations. Furthermore, the Alliance is meant to be a platform that ensures that caregivers have voice and vote in the decision-making, for example, by participation in the Intersectional Commission of the Care System.

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

The ambition of the Care Blocks is to benefit Bogota's society as a whole. Caregivers and care receivers will meet their specific needs and will see boosted a cultural transformation and the achievement of economic growth based on equity. Also, through the Care Alliance they will generate exchanges and fruitful collaborations between both parts around the pedagogy of care and redistribution.

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

Up to date they have reached a total of 200,000 services of which: 192,450 services in 11 Care Blocks; 11,988 services in 2 Care Buses; 2,134 homes in 3 programmes for Care Home Delivery Service; 7,038 caregivers formed; 8,480 persons in cultural change workshops. They have been conducting entry and exit surveys as well as part of an initial impact measurement effort; similarly, a platform that collects data on services provided by the different entities is in place. The expected results for the Bogotá Care Blocks System are to reach 1’000,000 beneficiaries by the end of 2024, and to continue to digitize the data collection and documentation of the entire process of implementation of the Care System.

Challenges and Failures

Since 2020, the Care Blocks have faced multiple challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic which aggravated the caregivers’ situation. On top of that, the initiative had to transit throughout the legislative body politics and required to enact a special budget to make it run. An additional layer of challenges are the reaching out and raising of awareness among the people and the different stakeholders, as well as the policy officers and entities, as they require accessing and integrating to the different categories of services that sought to be provided.

Conditions for Success

First, the share responsibility is key, specially inside the government, because this might be led by the Secretary of Women’s Affairs, but it requires the provision of services from six Secretaries. Second, infrastructure, this is mostly an urban initiative that rethink how the city’s services are organized, and it is based on the idea of bringing the services to the citizenship with a gender approach. Then, the city requires to rethink if the services available are the services they population need and if they are available when they need them. However, other factors are involved in the making of success: guarantee the legitimacy and durability of the programme through the law; the assurance of financial resources; and personal values and motivation since the System will not work without the citizen commitment, and this implies a change in their cultural manners and how they perceived the care work.


The Bogotá Care System has been replicated in San Pedro Garza García, México. The city has also received requests to give technical advice on the implementation of other care systems from cities such as Medellín, Cartagena and Cali, the Colombian National Government, Perú, Argentina, Chile, Dominican Republic, and México, and inside city networks as well such as CHANGE.

Lessons Learned

No society can survive without care. Furthermore, caring should be a shared obligation. For this reason, the participation of other actors beyond the government is necessary to achieve a successful and sustainable implementation. This requires an active participation and involvement of the private sector and other entities from the National level. For example, the Care Blocks Alliance is working with the National Training Service and with the city Council on the checks and balances of the system.

Anything Else?

The Intersectoral Commission has a citizen participation mechanism made up of representatives of the city's advisory councils (including those of women, children, LGBTI, and city councils on disability, indigenous women and Afro-Colombian women), as well as organizations of female caregivers, to guarantee a differential approach in their design and implementation. The System has received technical and financial support from international cooperation agencies and academia, such as the 2021 Bloomberg Global Mayors Challenge award.

In January 2022, Bogotá won the Carter Center Transforming Lives Campaign; The Care System has also received a donation from the Open Society Foundations to implement the piloting of the first 2 Care Buses of the Care System and a Cultural Change Strategy, Sept 2020 - August 2022.

Project Pitch

Supporting Videos


  • Implementation - making the innovation happen
  • Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed

Innovation provided by:


Date Published:

14 November 2022

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