Civil Society Organization (CSO) activation activities were launched in Colombia on February 19, 2020.
The objectives of the training were to build awareness of pollution and health issues facing constituents of the CSO participants, to introduce community-led communications strategies, and to brainstorm pollution and health-focused awareness campaigns that would engage and teach local communities. The meeting was held in Bogota, and consisted of a working group of government ministries, local and international NGOs, and representatives of local community-based organizations from different regions of Colombia.
The meeting was cohosted by Pure Earth, USAID, and 2 local community groups – Sueño de Angeles and Comunica Colombia. The meeting had 29 total attendees. The attendees consisted of representatives of the Colombian Government, including the National Government (Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Health, Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies, the Colombian Agricultural Institute, the National Planning Department, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Food and Drug Surveillance Institute, and representatives of local government, the US EPA; UNDP; Pure Earth representatives; and representatives of civil society groups including Sueño de Angeles, Salud Sin Daño, Asocampo, Comunica, National University and Comunica Colombia.
The first half of the workshop was focused on pollution and health education. It included presentations on the Toxic Sites Identification Program in Colombia with demonstration of the equipment Pure Earth and the government use to identify toxic sites. The Pure Earth Country Director summarized the Health and Pollution Action Plan that was completed with UNIDO and the Colombian government to identify major pollution concerns in the country and develop plans for future activities to mitigate the health risks associated with that pollution. Local public health experts presented on pollution-related health issues at the community and neighborhood levels with presentations geared to non-technical audiences’ understanding.
The second half of the workshop focused on community-led communications and advocacy. Comunica and the Ministry of Health each led sessions introducing the methods they use to engage diverse constituents and to design effective communications materials related to pollution and health issues. The workshop ended with small groups building communications plans for three health-related pollution topics relevant to the constituents of the CSOs in attendance (i.e., air pollution in Medellin, mercury pollution in the Amazon region from small-scale gold mining, and industrial pollution in key watershed/biodiversity areas).
The participants will be working with Pure Earth during 2020-2021 to develop 1-2 small-scale, community-focused outreach and communications activities that bring attention to pollution issues affecting health and well-being amongst the constituents of the participating CSOs.
From The Pollution Blog: