The Gothenburg Centre for Sustainable Development, Chalmers University of Technology, and the Observatory on Latin America (OLA) have partnered to implement the research study “Villa 20 and COVID-19: The benefits of building social capital in the informal settlements of Buenos Aires” from October to December 2020. The study complements OLA’s previous work undertaken in Buenos Aires, focusing on the localization and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda, followed by the work regarding urban responses to Covid-19 in 2020.
According to city government statistics, the slum community of Villa 20 has notably experienced lower COVID-19 cases and deaths than other slum communities during 2020. A four-month comparative study of slums in Buenos Aires will look into understanding Villa 20’s positive outcome in the pandemic. Using comparative data about the physical features and social composition, the study will test the hypothesis that the social investment in a participatory process of slum upgrading proved to be an investment in building social capital in the slum that was essential in avoiding contagion from COVID-19 during the first several months. Social capital built from this participative process was crucial in facilitating community action and support by the Instituto de Vivienda de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires and other City Government agencies.
This process of building capital can also be understood as the convergence of progressing towards some of the SDGs at the neighborhood scale, thus supporting the argument that the real sustainable benefits from investment in the SDGs as a whole are social and institutional for communities and not simply material benefits for individuals and their families.
A report of the main findings and analysis will be available by February, 2021.