Rural connectivity for the young, a support to the ongoing Hosts for Peace project
Hosts for Peace is the rural and extended version of the Manq’a model (read: MANQ’A gastronomy schools, beyond cooking | Colombia | Agroberichten Buitenland), as it strives for local economic development that generates opportunities among young people living in the rural areas of the southwest Colombian departments Putumayo and Nariño (two of the most affected regions by the internal conflict in Colombia). Hosts for Peace offers not only training programs in gastronomy but also in hospitality and tourism to young people who develop and promote respect for the diversity of their territories, their identity and knowledge of local products. This model articulates the entire value chain through components such as: the strengthening of local communities, the transfer of skills to young people, the strategic supply of products for gastronomy schools by small farmers and the generation of income through entrepreneurship or employability.
The program Hosts for Peace has been particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. On the one hand, since quarantine measures were adopted the implementing Dutch NGO, ICCO Cooperation, was forced to quit the classroom teaching. In order to keep things going ICCO placed a strategy to migrate from (in-person) classroom teaching to online teaching. Nevertheless, in Colombia, there are significant challenges since the lack of access to internet connection jeopardizes rural youth’s continuity in the technical program they already started. Therefore, connectivity has become imminent and urgent, as its absence or limited access implies significant curricular pace delays and, more importantly, student’s drop-off.
On the other hand, another throwback from the COVID-19 crisis is that the tourism sector started an unprecedented economic recession. Given the nature of the trainings, Hosts for Peace was intended to link trainees to hotels and restaurants that were committed to inclusive hiring strategies. Therefore, ICCO’s private sector partners experienced some constraints to comply with their job creation commitments during and after COVID-19 crisis, which would have been worsened if this proposed intervention would have not taken place as, otherwise, students would have not been able to finish their trainings.
In consequence, the main purpose of this intervention was to guarantee connectivity by facilitating SIM cards with internet access to students allowing them to finish their training program successfully. Hence, this project contributed to a) ensuring the continuity and finalization of the training in gastronomy and tourism that the young beneficiaries of ICCO’s project Hosts for Peace had already started before the mandatory lockdown in Colombia; b) reducing COVID-19 impact in the employability and entrepreneurial opportunities for local young; and, c) enabling better public health access during COVID-19 crisis.
Watch the following video to learn more about this project: