Project Details


As Covid-19 spreads in Colombia (50,063 cases; 1726 deaths to date), it is becoming clear that the data available to the Colombian government fails to capture (i) the volume and diversity of the informal sector; (ii) the spread of informal workers across Colombia’s 1,122 municipalities; (iii) the impact of Covid-19 on informal workers’ pre-existing health conditions and living conditions.

This data gap is alarming given that the informal sector represents around 66.3% of the economy according to a preliminary assessment by LaboUR. Reliable and comprehensive data is urgently needed to create suitable policies to protect informal workers and the general population during the pandemic.

We seek funding to disseminate the first comprehensive database on the volume and characteristics of informal work in Colombia, together with a documentary containing five life stories of the living conditions of informal workers during the pandemic.

These materials were produced by our collaborators at Rosario University in association with The International Economic Law Collective (Warwick Law School is a founding member of the collective), and they address the size, diversity and localisation of informal work; the vulnerability of informal workers in sectors not covered by current isolation measures; and their localisation in Covid-19 hotspots.

These analyses will be disseminated through six videoclips (created by local grassroots art collective Colectivo ArtoArte) along with a website, which will inform both the general public and national/local government’s responses to Covid-19, with potential benefits in slowing the spread of the disease and saving lives.

Short-term benefits include better targeted and more effective social distancing and financial measures.

The videoclips, documentary and website will detail the living conditions and types of vulnerabilities faced by workers in small businesses, family and domestic workers, day laborers, self-employed, and street vendors, among others.

By acknowledging these groups (currently omitted from official statistics), a more inclusive policy package can be designed, with effects extending into the medium/longer-term, as workers and the general population experience better protection from the virus.

The dissemination of the database and life stories through the documentary, videoclips and website will also provide local and international public bodies, labour organisations and NGOs with much needed information on informal work in Colombia.

By demonstrating the immediate effects of Covid-19 on informal workers in Colombia to the broader public, the project tackles three GCRF challenge areas: (i) Equitable Access to Sustainable Development, in particular in terms of creating new knowledge to ensure sustainable health and well-being (employment and income support) measures in Colombia; (ii) Sustainable Economies and Societies, in designing emergency policies, e.g. income support, aimed at generating strong foundations for inclusive economic growth and employment; and (iii) Human Rights, Good Governance and Social Justice, in rectifying the under-inclusion of informal workers in Colombian public health measures due to poverty, inequality, and gender and racial discrimination.

The policy recommendations which will be disseminated through the videoclips and website will be for immediate use by the Colombian government.

Our partners in Colombia serve on the boards of the Covid-19 Emergency National Health Association, currently advising the government; the Universities Public Health Advisory Board, advising Bogotá Mayor’s Office; and the National Association of Public Health Covid-19 Committee.

They also work closely with Colombia’s largest labour organisations, and Alliance EFI, a partnership of 24 international institutions (including Oxford and the Paris School of Economics) working on social inclusion in the formal economy in Colombia. There is an existing relationship between Warwick Law School and Rosario University’s Law School, with academics from both Schools having visited the other over the past four years.

This project seeks to expand that collaborative relationship to include further members of each Law School and builds on the existing wider collaboration with other members of the International Economic Law Collective.

University of Essex and University of Kent have partnered with Rosario University to produce the data that will be disseminated with the funding we are seeking from University of Warwick.

In this sense, the project we are proposing is a pilot for a methodology and approach to future collaborations seeking to research the impacts of Covid19 in other partner countries. It is expected that this project will yield a number of opportunities to apply for external GCRF funding in all three of the aforementioned GCRF challenge areas.

Further opportunities include building on the direct findings from this project but also in other issues as a result of widening the collaborative relationship between the two Law Schools and the opportunities for impact through the impressive list of advisory boards and NGOs which will be influenced as a result.

To this end, we are requesting funding for the creation of the videoclips and the website, as well as for a senior researcher and a bilingual research assistant to facilitate the administrative process and provide translations for the various materials.
Effective start/end date6/1/201/31/21

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth

Main Funding Source

  • International


  • Bogotá D.C.


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