In the spring of 2020, as MIT D-Lab Inclusive Economies program and its local partners—Diversa, Uniminuto, and Universidad Nacional de Colombia—prepared to deliver a creative capacity building (CCB) workshop to small-scale gold miners in Bajo Cauca, Colombia, when the national government declared a mandatory preventive quarantine. Although the virus had been slow to arrive in the region, the quarantine created severe hardship within these mining communities.
To assess the impact of the mounting crisis on this region and understand the communities’ priority needs and preferred method of communication, the program team designed and conducted a rapid mobile survey over WhatsApp with 70 miners in three municipalities of Bajo Cauca: Nechi, Zaragoza, and El Bagre. The results of the survey indicated that these small-scale and artisanal miners were in critical need of facemasks and hand sanitizer as well as food because of disrupted supply chains.
In response to these priorities and the government-imposed lockdown, the program team pivoted and devised a plan to deliver pieces of its content virtually. D-Lab partner Diversa designed “TeleCCB” modules, consisting of short videos and step-by-step graphic instructions to instruct 25 participants on how to fabricate critical items such as face masks, hand sanitizer, vertical gardens, and portable chicken coops.
Key Findings at a Glance
- Participants and facilitators reported having found great value in the instruction and hands-on activities of the TeleCCB.
- Participants felt they acquired useful knowledge and skills that allowed them to confidently use the design process to construct personal protective equipment (PPE) and develop food production techniques and tools to meet essential needs during COVID-19.
- Facilitators highlighted that participants were inspired and motivated to share their newly acquired knowledge and skills as well as the particular workshop designs within their families and communities.
- Local facilitators and participants gained useful knowledge and skills on how to utilize their cell phones as a device to overcome logistical challenges and to mobilize teams of miners to solve problems in their communities during times of crisis.
Elizabeth McDonald, MIT D-Lab Lecturer, Inclusive Economies Specialist