Overcoming the Covid-19 crisis in Latin America 
– How projects have adapted to meet challenges during the pandemic 

Innovative solutions are essential to meet the challenges during the Covid-19 crisis. Three examples from Latin America show how the projects Swisscontact implements have adapted to the new circumstances and demonstrated resilience in the face of the pandemic. In El Salvador, carpentry training focused on coffin making due to high demand. Master builders in Peru develop digital skills to expand their knowledge on safe construction. Bolivian mechanical engineers design and develop a respiratory assistance device to reach families in rural areas of the country. 

Salvadoran returning migrants train as coffin makers

Due to the high demand for coffins during the pandemic, a programme in El Salvador implemented by Swisscontact has adapted its carpentry training to focus on coffin making.

Since 2016, Swisscontact and the Salvadoran Institute for Professional Training INSAFORP have been implementing the programme ‘New Opportunities’, which seeks to reintegrate migrants returning to El Salvador into the job market. Returnees receive support with setting up their businesses or with certifying their skills acquired abroad. To meet the current demand, the Salvadoran returnees are now trained how to make coffins.

In the context of the ongoing pandemic, the training has been specifically adapted to teach carpentry skills for coffin making. Some returning migrants have never made a coffin before, but they are grateful to take a course and turn it into a work opportunity. Returnees can complete 50 learning hours to receive a professional certification, which will make it easier for them to integrate into the labour market. To work with more returning migrants, the programme has been scaled up, expanding into new areas.

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A technological innovation made in Bolivia within reach of rural families

In rural areas of Bolivia, any complications from traffic accidents or respiratory infections such as Covid-19 are still treated via manual respiratory assistance. With the support of Swisscontact, Bolivian engineers developed a technological solution for respiratory assistance that is now available in more than 70 rural health centres in three departments of Bolivia. This initiative thus reaches rural families often excluded from this type of innovation.

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Virtual classes for master builders – when limitations become learning opportunities

Measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Peru limited the work and further learning opportunities for construction workers. Adapting to the special circumstances, Swisscontact conducted blended learning workshops for master builders, combining both virtual and on-site training on safe construction.

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