To contribute to the growth of civic dimension in Colombia to reach a higher and better level of protection of the rights of users in the field of public services and health care. With this ambitious goal, in January 2009 Cittadinanzattiva embarked for Latin America, ready to export to protect the rights and promotion of civic participation from the top of a thirty-year experience, but also aware of the delicacy of the challenge which has been called to. Kicks off the project "Desarrollo y Derechos" - Rights and Development. "

Actually, the project began to take shape far back in 2005, when at the invitation of the UNDP-Colombia (the United Nations Program for Development) and the Colombian Superintendence of Public Services, Cittadinanzattiva participates as a speaker at the International Congress on Services of public utility in Medellin.


From the point of view of the United Nations, the project is part of the more general process of democratization, anti-corruption and peace in progress in Colombia, where the United Nations work for opening a dialogue with the government, which also includes the theme of enlargement of the spaces of governability in the functioning of public services and health. And in this they needed a subject expert as Cittadinanzattiva who worked in the role of technical advisor to develop activities in the field of civic participation.

Three years of working have allowed us to raise hundreds of citizens and students to rediscover the sense of civic duty, constitute 18 civic committees officially recognized by the municipal government of San Juan de Pasto and Cartagena de Indias, open three centers in the two cities of protection - still opened and operating, including 1 Tribunal de Derechos de los Pacientes and two centers in terms of public services, thanks to the support of no less than 6 universities that collaborate by sending their students at their final year of law school, and social studies to do internship in back office centers of protection. And now in Cartagena these active citizens have formed an independent legal entity that draws our experience: "Corporacion Tribunal de Derechos”.

And yet, we have launched the tables of comparison between companies that provide public services and citizens' representatives, published a manual on how to manage a city center listening and protection, a coordinated process that led to draw up and proclaim in Cartagena the First Charter of Rights the sick of Colombia. And the new addition Municipal entered for the first time in Pasto the theme of civic participation as a fundamental element of its program of government granting indefinitely and without charge for the activities of the local conservation center.

Above all, we have protected in the first 6 months of opening of the centers of protection more than 1,000 people struggling with everyday problems of access to care or services.

Two cases on all: in Pasto we have protected a poor family consisting of mother householder and 5 children (certainly not an exception to the Colombian reality) to which had been removed the water because they cannot pay.

And in Cartagena we were able to send an ambulance to those who were claiming for it for more than 24 hours but had no health insurance to pay for it.

These stories, together with a number of much more information, colors, images, faces and places, are collected in the final report  hosted on our site that matched to your home movies, provides a report that goes far beyond mere curiosity.


Colombia: "Derechos y Desarrollo" program (2009/2012)

  • Support citizens to improve the "quality of their participation" in Public services and Health

  • With a view to achieving better efficiency, facilitated access, more transparency and respect of the law

Seed funds

  • Cittadinanzattiva

  • Regione Lazio

Main funding:

  • Italian Cooperation
  • Through the Art Initiative

Areas of intervention

  • San Juan de Pasto and Cartagena de Indias, similar action in different contexts.

  • Health sector and "servicios publicos domiciliarios", i.e. water, energy, telecommunications, waste and sewage


  • 2 Local municipality

  • 6 Universities

  • National Authority on Public Utility (Superintendencia de Servicios Públicos Domiciliarios)

Main goals:

  • 16 civic participatory Committees (Comites de desarrollo y control social)

  • Training Course with 680 citizens and 380 students

  • 3 Citizens Advisory Center on Public Services and Health

  • Practical Handbook for active citizens

  • The first Colombian patients' rights Charter

Permanent forum with local public utilities

  • 2 website for daily advice service

  • In the first six months 1003 rights' violations repaired

Activities at the local level

  • Information and orientation points

  • The first ever independent complete information on the performance of public services drawn from primary sources (customer's claims and citizen's observation)

  • Re-vitalization of "vocales de control" and "Comité de Control y Seguimiento Social" (civic participatory Committees and their members)

Colombia: Citizens protected statistic data

  • 74% women

  • More than 70% leaving under the poverty line

  • 59% housewifes

  • 22% occasional workers

  • 10% employed and 8% unemployed

  • 59% women householder

  • 3% refugees

The first Colombian Patients' Rights Charter

  • 12 rights stated

• the weaker ones:

• The right to timely care = 35%

• The right to information = 31%

• The right to complain = 14%

• The right of access = 14%


  • Rights and Development are part of the wider democratization process, fight against corruption and promote pacification

  • In this process citizens may contribute to expand the space of Governance to the good functioning of public services and health

  • How to manage a Citizen Advisory Center on Public Services and Health. Practical Handbook for active citizens. Read more

Mariano Votta

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