Monday, September 20

The Barcelona that the network of ‘climatic shelters’ does not reach: “If I put the air conditioning on, I would not eat”

“I don’t know of any neighbors who have been to the climatic shelter.” “We are abandoned.” This is how these days are expressed in Torre Baró, one of the neighborhoods of Barcelona most devoid of facilities, on the network of spaces to protect themselves from the extreme heat that the City Council has set up. In your area there is one, but many people pile it too far, so they see it as little useful. And that despite the fact that Torre Baró is the second neighborhood with the lowest income in the city, so protecting itself from extreme heat is more difficult for its neighbors.

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The equipment conditioned as a climatic refuge is a library with limited hours – Monday to Wednesday from 2.30pm to 7.30pm and Thursday to Friday from 9.30am to 2pm. But no one has come to the place to take a break and the people who turn to it are the usual ones, as a worker from the Zona Norte Library explains to, which supposedly works as a bunker against the heat since June 15. “The Red Cross brought fifty glasses to give people water, but no one has used them,” he says.

“I wonder if the technicians of the Barcelona City Council know the neighborhood because, from my point of view, it is that they do not; if not, they would not make this proposal,” says José Antonio Martínez Vicario, one of the almost 3,000 residents of the area.

Barcelona started up a total of 162 climatic shelters at the beginning of summer, double the number a year ago, as reported by the City Council. Its initial objective is to offer spaces to relieve from extreme temperatures to those who cannot do it in their case. In the long term, they aspire to expand the network so that by 2030 any citizen will have one of these facilities or a green space within a five-minute walk from their home.

With the current plan, 87.5% of the people of Barcelona have an equipment of these characteristics within a ten-minute walk from their home, according to data from the town hall. This is not the case for many of the inhabitants of Torre Baró, an area urbanized by its own inhabitants as they settled, in the middle of the 20th century, on the back of the Collserola mountain. Those who live in the high zone must walk more than 20 minutes to reach the refuge, with maximum temperatures that have reached an average of 31.5ºC during the past week, while the intense heat wave tightens.

In Torre Baró only one of these climatic shelters was launched because there are no more facilities in the area that meet the conditions set by the council, such as having water sources or air conditioning, the City Council admits. “If a politician or a millionaire lived here, this would change,” says José Antonio, who constantly talks to the neighborhood and contacts the City Council to demand investments in the neighborhood.

Torre Baró, far removed from the postcard image of Barcelona, ​​stretches across the mountain, with houses, paths and stairs built by the residents themselves. Even though it belongs to the capital of Catalonia, this neighborhood still does not have a supermarket or pharmacy, among many other basic services. “We don’t feel like we are from Barcelona, ​​we always say that we are from Torre Baró or from the outskirts,” says José Antonio. “The houses are not suitable for this heat,” says another neighbor.

These days you can count on the fingers of one hand the brave who leave their home and fight the sun, which does not give up in a neighborhood with hardly any shady areas. The streets in summer are an oven. The children’s play areas are orphaned of boys and girls willing to jump down the slide.

Energy poverty issue

“I go with the fan everywhere.” This is how the summer passes Carmen Vicario López, José Antonio’s mother. It is energy poverty that also shows its consequences in summer. “If I put the air conditioning on, I wouldn’t eat,” he says. Because it doesn’t have, it doesn’t even have a small fan. It is difficult to find someone with one of these devices. Even those who have it, a minority, think two and three times before hitting the power button. “I only put it on for a few hours,” explains Dolores, a neighbor of the Martínez Vicario family. In August he lives with all the windows of the house open, trying to get a breath of air to pass through his home. “I am lucky because my house is in the shade,” he acknowledges.

Sleepless nights due to the heat are common topics of conversation among neighbors. “Tonight I couldn’t sleep until three o’clock,” Remedios Narvaez Castillero tells José Antonio, who overcomes her: “Me at four. I had a thin nightgown and, with forgiveness, I didn’t leave anything. I was like my mother brought me. to the world, “admits the lady.

Remedios has given up turning on the air conditioning. “This summer I have not put it because, my goodness!”, He exclaims, making a gesture with his hand indicating that he cannot pay the bills. Receive a pension of less than 700 euros. “Either you pay or you eat,” says Carmen, who lives plugged into an electric respirator all day and accumulates three electricity bills of more than 200 euros, a third of what she receives under the Dependency Law and a widowhood benefit.

Less than 100 meters from the Zona Norte Library is the Zona Norte Civic Center, in the Ciutat Meridiana neighborhood. It is also classified as one of the spaces where you can take refuge from the heat, as indicated on the Barcelona City Council website.

The reality is that the place remains closed throughout the month of August, as indicated by a paper pasted on the door of the equipment, drawn up by the team that manages the space. “This is an error on the web that is being rectified,” explains the council to

The afternoon arrives, the sun loses its strength and the neighbors to whom the orography of the Sierra de Collserola has given them a few meters of shade come out onto the street. They want to enjoy the cool. Some take the folding chairs, others get by with the ones in the kitchen or dining room. Carmen grabs the respirator, from which she does not detach. “I need it to live,” he remembers. His son takes the chair for his mother and himself.

Along the way they pass some of the neighbors who take a walk or return home. “This neighborhood is a great luxury to have it and, if we had services, people would be very happy and there would be no problems,” says José Antonio.