Bayamo has a population of 142,000 inhabitants. Its economy is based on food processing and construction industries, social services (health and education) and administrative services. The city was selected to develop this project as a demonstration project in response to a request by the Cuban government to strengthen the capacity of local actors to conduct urban environment planning and management processes. The project supports the city of Bayamo to develop and implement a Local Agenda 21. The local team is located in the municipal office of the Ministry of Physical Planning and work in close cooperation with the Municipal Council. The project aims at mobilizing local, provincial and national partners to jointly address key urban environment problems. Issues addressed at local levels are the following: (a) deficient system of collection and recycling of solid waste; (b) degradation of the river that limit its uses; (c) insufficient urban transport service; and (d) insufficient public spaces in some of the neighbourhoods.
The project supported the preparation of an urban environmental profile, which provided an overview of the relation between urban development and the environment and analysed existing mechanisms for managing the urban environment. This profile offers a common information base for all actors involved in the project. It served as a basis to identify priority urban environmental issues that were discussed during City Consultations held in April 2003. This Consultation, which brought two hundred actors, were concluded with the adoption of Urban Pacts and led to the creation of intersectoral working groups around selected priority issues. These working groups, which met weekly, prepared issue- specific strategies and action plans. Action plans are currently under implementation starting with demonstration projects.
Urban environmental profiles were prepared in consultation with more than 100 actors.
Key actors were mobilized in relation to priority urban environmental problems through City Consultations. About 40 key actors were involved in the preparation of issue-specific strategy and action plans through weekly working groups meetings.
Action plans serve as a framework to guide priority actions in relation to the most pressing urban environmental problems.
Intersectoral cooperation and citizen participation has been strongly strengthened in addressing priority urban environmental issues. Participatory and intersectoral mechanisms that have been put in place by the project are being institutionalized as a new way to conduct environmental planning and management activities.
The degradation of the Bayamo River has been stopped and in some aspects even reverted. For example, a number of water pollution sources have been eliminated. Among other activities, the project supported the establishment of a water quality control laboratory, which will serve to monitor the success of interventions. Reverting the degradation of the river will be key to use fully its potential for a number of activities (including water supply, urban agriculture and recreational activities) and as a very important structuring element of the city.
Solid waste management has improved in neighbourhoods where the most vulnerable population lives. This is done through the rehabilitation of collection trucks and the creation of small-scale manual sanitary land fields.
Urban mobility is being improved through non-motorized transport. The project supported a more rational use of horse-drawn carriages as the main means of public transport. After consultations with the local municipality running the Bayamo Local Agenda 21 project, the police, the public and carriage operators, the city's new horse-drawn carriage lines were officially inaugurated on 6 July 2004. If the idea sounds unusual, it is considered environmentally friendly, appropriate to a situation of need and fuel scarcity. Their routes have been extended to cover those neighbourhoods where the most vulnerable population lives and which previously did not have access to public transport. In addition, walking and cycling have been made easier through the creation of cycling paths and sidewalks.