By: María del Rosario Carvajal – Executive Director of the Vallecaucana Action Unit
These are times in which collective dialogue can empower us to face the challenges generated by the COVID-19 pandemic which has exacerbated the economic and social problems that have afflicted the country. It is undeniable that social and economic inequality not only became more evident, they also increased.
Although the Valle del Cauca region has improved in the competitiveness index, reaching the third position in the rankings, a careful look at the scores in different areas shows the need to focus our efforts in the economic, social, academic, and governmental sectors.
There is no doubt that local governments have made a big effort to deal with the pandemic in terms of health and food safety. Others have contributed to this effort, and thanks to the resilient capacity of the private sector, business organizations, and foundations, we have been working together to face the crisis through public-private collaboration.
The Valle del Cauca’s business community has been very active in supporting efforts to mitigate the impact of the Covid crisis. They have supported processes such as strengthening local leaders through the School of Governance, a training program led by the Unidad de Acción Vallecaucana (UAV) with support from the local network of Universities for Leadership. Last year sixty-nine leaders graduated from the program.
The UAV also participated in different campaigns to deliver aid to those most in need, aware of the responsibility to contribute to mitigating the effects of the pandemic and promoting the economic and social reactivation of the city. The UAV is one of the institutions that led the second stage of the ‘Valle se Cuida en la Calle’ campaign, driven by the “Socios por el Valle” movement, where more than twenty institutions participated. Together with social and community leaders, they carried out a communications campaign, aimed at promoting the correct use of face masks, encouraging self-care measures, and demonstrating the importance of overcoming the myths around the vaccine and urging people to get vaccinated when the time comes.
The joint efforts of the institutions participating in “Socios por el Valle” began in mid-2020, achieving national, regional, and local recognition. Twenty-one events were carried out in Cali and three in Buenaventura, delivering 17,425 reusable masks, 5,000 single-use masks, 4,110 bottles of alcohol, 790 posters and 12,000 pedagogical printed resources.
The third stage of the campaign is taking place in 2021. Approximately 100,000 masks have been distributed and 500 thermometers were given to the Departmental Education Secretariat thanks to donations from the private sector. Currently, “Socios por el Valle” seeks to hand out a further 25,000 masks in the area with the assistance of the local government, the private sector and social leaders, keeping in mind that awareness and advocacy of civic culture are essential in continuing the economic and social reactivation in the region.