In May 2018, Amy Smith, Martha Thompson, and Omar Crespo, a D-Lab collaborator and IDIN member, traveled to San Miguel, El Salvador with Oxfam America to do an initial assessment on building a local ecosystem for innovation so that rural communities can use the design process to develop technologies and tools for risk reduction.
The marginalized subsistence farming communities in northern San Miguel where the Oxfam project is taking place are in the Dry Corridor of Central America. They are increasingly impacted by the variable rainfall and climate changes caused by global warming which inhibit their ability to depend on agriculture as a viable livelihood.
The local innovation ecosystem will include Creative Capacity Building (CCB) training for people in four communities, the establishment of a local innovation center in a central area and the development of an advanced CCB training, adapted for risk reduction design.
IIn this three-year project, D-Lab coordinates with Oxfam’s local partners, Fundacion Campos and Cordes. The project has the enthusiastic support of the municipality of Carolina in the department of San Miguel.
In November 2018, Martha Thompson and Omar Crespo returned to Carolina, San Miguel to select 20 participants from the different communities for an on-site CCB training that took place in December 2018; and carrie out the preparations and concretize the plans for the local innovation center, including the development of a sustainable business plan.
Amy, Omar and CCB collaborator Pamela Silva (MIT SB '12) who worked on the D-Lab Puerto Rico trainings, carried out a CCB training in Carolina from December 10-14th for 20 community members and three partner organizations. In this training, participants began to think how they could apply design to the challenges their daily lives as well as those of drought and other impacts of climate change which are putting the communities at risk. The innovation center will open in February 2019 and D-Lab will train a local team to run it.
D-Lab and collaborators will deliver two other CCBs in the spring of 2019 and then develop an advanced CCB on risk reduction which they will run at the training at the innovation center. Members of the D-Lab team will continue to visit, monitor, and mentor in order to build the capacity of the innovation center team. Omar Crespo, a co-founder of Link4 in Guatemala, an instructor at Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, and a trained CCB workshop facilitator will play a key role in providing this mentorship.