2020 in review: Cauca Local Economic Development Project


2020 was a year of learning and adaptations. Before the end of the year, we would like to thank each and everyone who has dedicated their time and effort to continue developing the CLED project activities in this difficult period. We know that working at home and remotely has not been easy, and this is an excellent time to recognize the tremendous effort that everyone has made to continue despite the adverse situation.

Para la actualización en español, haz clic aquí

We want to take a moment to highlight all the things that have kept us together, mostly because amid the difficulties created by the pandemic, we have managed to meet goals, learn, and adapt to new ways of working and collaborating.

The crossing of mappings and the work developed during 2019
The year started by presenting the mappings of the Peace and Economic Development pillars of the CLED project. For a couple of days, the team worked with all the project partners at the Popayán University Foundation (FUP) rural facilities, sharing and crossing the mappings' information and their results. Simultaneously, some recommendations were highlighted for the incoming mayors' development plans prioritized by the project: Caldono, Silvia, and Totoró.

Representatives of all Consortium organizations: Maastricht School of Management, Popayán University Foundation, CREPIC, Utrecht University, University of Medellín, SENA and ESAP, regionals of Cauca.

Participatory Innovation and strengthening of local capacities
In that same month, after participants had been selected, the training in "Participatory Rural Innovation" began. It was a comprehensive process to promote local potential in all its dimensions. It was an intensive three-day session at the SENA agricultural center facilities, where in addition to the project partners, Caldono coffee growers, agribusiness center representatives and coffee quality laboratory, the Departmental Committee of coffee growers, Cicacultura, ACUIPES participated. , COOMEEP and Mayor's Office of Caldono.

The aim of the training was to create bonds of trust and collaboration between entities and rural producers. Through participatory methodologies it was possible to make a comprehensive and sustainable rural innovation process. With the application of this methodology, the project partners, in particular SENA, were able to take the lead in the requirements of the new rural technology transfer law in which the participation and recognition of local knowledge are central.

Although an effort was made to maintain this remote training during the "quarantine" period, it had to be paused until measures allowed to meet in person again. This as the participatory nature and the need to recognize the field's requirements and generate bonds of collaboration and trust among the participants required a "face-to-face" interaction. It is our aim to reschedule these activities as soon as possible in the new year.

Conflict and peace
As part of the activities that were adapted to be done "online," the seminar "Introduction to social and political studies of conflict and peace" was carried out between the months of July and October. The seminar was developed and guided by researchers from the Universities of Utrecht (Dr. Chris van der Borgh) and researchers from the University of Medellín (Dr. Gabriel Ruiz Romero, Dr. Milton Rojas Betancur, and Pedro Jurado Castaño, MSc). Sixteen professors and researchers from FUP, ESAP, CREPIC, and the Autonomous University of Cauca, participated in this seminar, where a brief account of the Colombian armed conflict was made, the characteristics of contemporary conflicts were analyzed, and the challenges of the period of implementation of peace agreements were studied.

Likewise, the academic directors of various FUP programs participated between July and August in training sessions and discussion on quality practices in education and accreditations, mostly aimed at supporting the transition to the requirements and advances of the new accreditation regulations formulation and measurement of learning objectives. As a further step, the curricular revision of the Agricultural Administration program began, which will continue in 2021. This activity is led by Liliana Bedoya, Project Manager of CLED and Manager Quality Enhancement at  Maastricht School of Management (MSM) in the Netherlands.

Triple Helix Model
To continue with the capacity building programs, the Triple Helix training started with intense sessions between October and December. This component was designed to take into account the practical and theoretical content of the three focus sectors of the project: Coffee, Tourism, and Fish farming. Also to take up the lessons of the mappings shared at the beginning of the year. Among the participants, and as a strategy to generate synergies and collaboration in the region, are the project partners and several representatives of the mayors and the productive and business sectors, including the Committee of coffee growers and the Chamber of Commerce of the Cauca.

The triple helix sessions have been constituted as a platform where representatives of the academy, private and business sector entities, and city hall officials present their contributions to sector problems. Through the specific workshops a route has been traced in which the Triple Helix model can provide answers and concrete actions for the common agenda. Among them, to support in the tourism strategy for the municipalities of Silvia and Totoró, the organizational strengthening of coffee producers in Caldono, and the possibility of accompanying the Cauca coffee cluster to strengthen its position in the region and its consolidation at national level.

Cauca speciality coffee cluster
The CLED project seeks to articulate regional initiatives to contribute to the strengthening of capacities and inter-institutional cooperation. This has been the case with the Cauca High-Quality Coffee Cluster, which is led by the Departmental Committee of Coffee Growers of Cauca, the Cauca Chamber of Commerce, associations and companies in the sector, the departmental government, and universities.

The partner entities of the CLED project (CREPIC, FUP, SENA) participate in the organizational and strategy workgroup. They are related to implementing a Triple Helix model that is led by the ASCAFE organization. The Cluster will continue its strengthening with the support of National Government entities, INNPULSA COLOMBIA, the integration with other clusters in the country, and the articulation with institutional events such as the specialty coffee fair. The CLED project will continue to accompany this initiative and contribute to strengthening actions.

In 2020 we also collaborated with the University of Maastricht to offer internship spaces to its students. The project team wants to thank the support of the student Nele Frieg, who was with us as an intern from January to June.

Next year we will continue working together, reaping results, and generating collaboration between the people and entities we represent. Best wishes for these holidays, good health, and prosperity to all!

About the project
The Cauca Local Economic Development (CLED) project is managed by Maastricht School of Management (MSM) and promotes sustainable peace and economic development by integrating entrepreneur / livelihood capacity building and peacebuilding activities in its three project phases: mapping, capacity building, and incubation/roll out. The project develops a Triple Helix+ framework for integrating capacity building, peace building and rural economic development in a holistic, inclusive and sustainable manner. MSM, along with UU-CC and the University of Medellin (UdeM), will work with key Colombian partners (the University Foundation of Popayan (FUP), National Service for Learning (SENA), Higher School for Public Management (ESAP), and the Regional Centre for Productivity and Innovation of Cauca (CREPIC)) to implement the CLED project in three rural Municipalities: Caldono, Tororo, and Silvia. Taking a Train the Trainer approach, the project will capacitate FUP, SENA, ESAP and CREPIC to be more effective training, research and extension organizations, with improved capabilities in offering market based and conflict sensitive programs. The approach will address the educational and opportunity gap in the project area while promoting and documenting peace building and economic development lessons learned.

Orange Knowledge Programme
This project is part of the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) which is funded by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and managed by Nuffic. For more information click here.

Related news
Colombian CLED project moves forward despite pandemic

MSM attends inspiring Dutch Week in the Cauca Region of Colombia

Strong partner relationships push capacity building activities forward