April News 2020

Currently @ LATINNO

The Covid-19 global pandemic continues under the international spotlight. While cases in Europe are beginning to stabilize, the Covid-19 spread is rapidly increasing in Latin America, where the effects of the virus can be particularly devastating as fragile health systems raise doubts on the preparedness to battle the pandemic.
While some Latin American governments have pushed the adoption of temporary lockdowns to reduce the infection rates, the region’s dependency on informal economy has prevented an important part of the population to stay indoors. According to the World Economic Forum, 55% of Latin Americans depend on informal economic activities and have no job contracts, social security or proper access to healthcare.

In this context, the use of digital technologies to promote initiatives that support and complement governments in their response to the current crisis is starting to become an increasing trend among civil society actors, especially when it comes to protecting vulnerable sectors of the population from the overall effects of the pandemic. This month’s newsletter presents digitally implemented democratic innovations that seek to counteract the effects of Covid-19 in Latin America by means of citizen engagement.

LATINNO @ Harvard's Ash Center Virtual Seminar on COVID-19 and Democracy

This month, our project coordinator, Thamy Pogrebinschi, participated in a virtual seminar organized by the Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation on the impact of Covid-19 on democracies around the world.

Focusing on Brazil, but extending her thoughts to Latin America and beyond, she claimed that the current context represents an opportunity to further develop digital democratic innovations that contribute to build collective knowledge to solve public problems. At around minute 48' (after a small problem with the video), she mentioned hackathons and mapathons as key digital tools of citizen participation that are starting to be used to collaboratively address problems related to Covid-19.


Citizen Co-Lab - Ecuador

Citizen Co-Lab (Span. Colaboratorio Ciudadano) is an initiative implemented by civil society with the aim of articulating different citizen initiatives to reduce the socially differentiated impact generated by the spread of Covid-19 in Ecuador. Through an electronic platform, citizens in need have the opportunity of registering a current necessity -which can be individual or communal- to deal with the effects of the pandemic. The registered needs are uploaded in the website in order for other citizens to support those in need.
The platform has a map that allows to locate those citizens in need in order to develop support strategies and organize donations. Additionally, the initiative allows citizens to share thoughts, ideas and proposals on how to reduce the effects of the current pandemic.

#TogetherWeHack - Argentina

#TogetherWeHack (Span. #LoHackeamosEntreTodos) was a hackathon organized by the civil society and the private sector with the aim of searching for initiatives and solutions to decrease the negative effects of the pandemic in Argentina. The initiative brought together designers, programmers, data scientists, and health professionals, among other actors, to jointly work around three general topics: Technology and Society, Technology and Health, and Technology and Information. During the hackathon, participants were able to join presentations and working groups. The hackathon has had 2 editions so far, with an average of 500 participants and 22 registered projects.

Brake the Curve - Transnational

Brake the Curve (Span. Frena la Curva) is an initiative that was originally implemented in Spain after the sudden raise of Covid-19 cases. It has been implemented so far in 11 countries, including: Ecuador, Costa Rica, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, and Bolivia. The initiative works as a citizen platform that allows volunteers to complement existing governmental initiatives in order to reduce the effects of the pandemic, especially its impact on marginalized groups.
Through the platform, citizens, NGOs, and governmental actors can register and upload ideas and proposals to fight the pandemic, or contribute to existing initiatives. Citizens can register as “in need” or “volunteers”; with this information, the platform creates a map to detect people or communities in need in order for volunteered-citizens to provide help and donations. Additionally, the platform allows users to publish useful and updated information on the pandemic, and to verify and “fact-check” existing news and statements on the topic.