For-Profit or Non-Profit…The choice between inefficiency and neocolonialism.

By Frank Bergh, instructor for Village Earth’s Technology and Community Development course. This post originally featured on Engineering for Change’s blog.

Why member-owned co-ops are the best kept secret in humanitarian development

In publications like E4C, practitioners are exposed to diverse perspectives from experts in engineering for global development regarding the best strategies for community engagement, human centered design, appropriate technology, and social entrepreneurship. Among so many approaches to humanitarian impact, there remains a lively debate between the inherent merits of for-profit versus non-profit approaches. But is there a third way?

The choice between inefficiency and neocolonialism

Oftentimes, non-profit models are thought to be old-fashioned. They seem reminiscent of large, monolithic NGOs, some of which have been accused of excessive overhead and administrative costs, as well as mismanagement of funds in the context of disasters. Thought leaders such as Paul Polak have proclaimed “The Death of Appropriate Technology,” accusing global aid providers of creating non-viable markets with overpriced ideas that are highly prone to failure in heavily subsidized and poorly understood operating environments. This critique is certainly relevant in a world where upwards of 30-40% of water pumps in Africa are in disrepair, and developing economies are craving “Trade, Not Aid” for sustainable growth. Much has been written about how the phenomenon known as “Poverty, Inc.” has created an aid-industrial complex which fosters foreign dependency rather than local self-reliance in the case of Haitian rice or Jamaican dairy, for example.

Over the past decade, the discourse of development has favored social entrepreneurship models, whereby strict free-market principles govern the strategy and allocation of investment in emerging markets. Many of the former paradigms of Participatory Rural Assessment (PRA), community-driven strategic planning have been replaced by human-centered design (HCD) product-driven design interventions. The contrast in these approaches is the tendency of PRA to yield slow results with high overhead costs versus HCD’s emphasis on rapid prototyping and business models, with implicit assumptions that a market-based approach can address socioeconomic marginalization.

In the social entrepreneurship model, project-companies focus on tweaking known products in hopes that mass production will drive down costs for accessibility, while earning revenue via volume-driven franchise models to reach scale. While this model has yielded several incredible success stories (notably d.light became the world’s leading solar lantern thanks to $2.9M from the Acumen Fund), due in large part to “patient capital” from large foundations and angel investors, the ultimate success rate of start-up social enterprises in developing countries is largely unknown. There have also been some noteworthy products that didn’t live up to the hype (LifeStraw, Sockket soccer ball, PlayPump). This funding paradigm favors foreign entrepreneurs with access to capital rather than local stakeholders whose ideas are less likely to encounter deep pockets. The result is a neocolonialist distribution of foreign investment in products designed for – not with – those in greatest need.

What about crowdfunding?

Some donors have been enthusiastically supportive of startups with timely ideas that create crowdfunding appeals for game-changing startup funding. When we look at the actual results of these Cinderella stories (Solar Freakin’ Roadways raised $2,275,872, Gravity Light raised $399,590), we find ‘viral’ concepts that might have been shunned by investors, yet they attract large amounts of donor funding from everyday web surfers. Generally, these campaigns are made by not-for-profit organizations, but at times it can be used by social enterprises to raise capital without surrendering equity. However, this model decouples funding from outcomes in the field, promoting a lack of transparency and accountability that could render the product useless or even harmful to end users (if they ever get their hands on it).

So, is there another way?

We tend to overlook the capability of the public sector in funding or sustaining sustainable development work. This approach is easily validated by direct experience: If governments in emerging markets had sufficient resources, then the UN’s development goals (the Millennium Development Goals that have evolved into the Sustainable Development Goals) would already be satisfied. We would have clean water for all and universal electrification achieved by taxes, not donations, without any foreign intervention. Oftentimes, progress towards these goals is hindered by real or perceived volatility and corruption in public sector agencies for public works. Long-term project horizons may be compromised by changes to the ruling party in election years. Big aid projects might be derailed by lack of accountability in civil society for large government contracts issued to multinational firms or fledgling local companies. Clearly, public-sector actors need private sector collaborators.

7 cooperative principles

Cooperatives: Unfashionably effective

Many large infrastructure projects around the world are managed by cooperative governance structures. These entities are so far out of vogue as to be seldom even mentioned in contemporary discussions of humanitarian engineering. Could that be because cooperatives are primarily a sociological, not a technical phenomenon? Perhaps the engineering sector overlooks what it doesn’t understand. Take the following examples:

  • Rural electrification in the USA was not achieved by handheld solar lanterns. It was stimulated by a massive public works project under the Rural Electrification Act to put people back to work after the Great Depression. In rural areas of the USA, there are miles between electricity customers. For investor-owned utilities to serve those areas would have taken decades to see any return on investment based on meager electric consumption. Rather than create a massive new appendage of the Federal government, rural communities created over 800 member-owned electrical cooperatives to sustainably manage and maintain their infrastructure for the past 80+ years.
  • Remote water distribution systems installed by NGOs such as Engineers Without Borders USA have a lot to tell us about project sustainability. In 2013, EWB-USA hired local practitioners to audit all of its water distribution projects in Guatemala. It turned out that all of the projects with a full-time paid circuit rider (maintenance personnel) were in good working order, whereas the working condition of systems without a budget for cooperative maintenance was much more inconsistent. In other words, the sustainability of the bricks and mortar were primarily dependent upon the resilience of the cooperative social network that maintained it. Going forward, EWB-USA and many peer organizations now require a “water board” (basically a member-owned cooperative) to own and maintain its infrastructure and technology for improved sustainability.
  • Large-scale worker-owned cooperatives, such as Mondragon in Spain, have demonstrated the capability to compete in highly competitive consumer markets without compromising labor conditions or workers’ rights. The question remains whether this paradigm can thrive in emerging markets where skilled labor and capital are less plentiful.

In the matrix below, I examine differential factors and outcomes of various governance structures.

Matrix

Let’s start by asking the right question

As Einstein would say, “we cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” When we fail to transcend the exploitation, oppression, and dependency of neoliberal and neocolonialist interventions, we replicate the same broken promises that developing communities have come to expect from Western intervention.

Aspiring development engineering practitioners often ask, “Should my big ideas be for-profit or non-profit?” In fact, the premise of starting the conversation around “my” ideas for other people’s livelihoods is inherently flawed, and perhaps reflects implicit bias in favor of foreign intervention rather than local self-determination.

On the other hand, philanthropists and impact investors looking to support big ideas often ask, “Should I be an investor or a donor?” In fact, delegating our capital to foreign owners presumes that community members are somehow incapable of taking ownership and autonomy for their own capacity building. Such presumptions are frequently built on discrimination, racism, or cultural superiority—infantilizing the very people we attempt to help.

Let’s re-frame the discussion. Let’s make the most significant question become, “What structure maximizes the resiliency, ownership, and self-determination of the end users?” Quite honestly, why else would we have been invited in the first place? If we really believe that the role of development engineering is to collaborate with communities in pursuit of a brighter future of shared possibility, then development practice must be re-oriented as pedagogy. Engineering-For-Change does not mean depositing “our” ideas and technology into “their” community, but fostering the mutual discovery and amplification of voices we’ve never heard before.

Design is a manifestation of creativity and creation is a means toward liberation. The goal of humanitarian development is not only to reduce vulnerability, but also to increase resiliency. Therefore, empowerment won’t be the destination unless it was also the journey. As development practitioners, establishing leadership and ownership within a local cooperative is the most effective way of deliberately working ourselves out of a job and leaving communities stronger than we found them.

 

If you’re interested to learn more about these concepts join Frank Bergh for his Technology and Community Development online course now enrolling through April 17. The course runs April 21 – May 26, 2017.

Why Should We Care About Climate Change. by Luminta Cuna

In a previous blog post I showed how the Amazon is drying due to changes in weather caused by land use change. Intense, large scale deforestation made space for immense grazing pastures and industrial monocultures like soy. Through a feedback effect, less Amazon forest means less rain, therefore the shrinking of this vast swath of trees in itself becomes a contributor to changing weather patterns. Last September, around Xingu Indigenous Park in Brazil, the biggest indigenous reserve in the world, a record 53,000 forest fires were detected. Dry, hot atmosphere led to even more forest destroyed and threw tons of CO₂ in the atmosphere, contributing, through a feedback loop, to more global warming.

Here in New York, since my last blog post 10 days ago, we experienced again a few days with 60 F followed by 2 days of blizzard and temperatures in the low 20s.  Everybody feels something is not right.

All over the world the effects of a warming world are already felt. Extreme weather events cause shoreline erosion, flooding, infrastructure damage severely disrupting daily activities. Melting mountain glaciers reduce water availability, which means failed crops and food security at risk. Heatwaves cause human deaths even in cities like Paris. Warmer winters enable pests and pathogens to survive and extend their range northward, spreading new diseases to humans, plants and animals. Crops and forests are decimated by fungi or mountain pine beetles. Vector borne diseases spread and new ones appear: the range of ticks carrying Lyme disease expands, the same stands true for mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus, Zika or dengue fever.

If some population segments in wealthy industrialized countries are still sheltered from the effects of our warming planet, other groups are already extremely vulnerable to these changes. “Building Climate Change Resilient Communities” class explores what makes these groups vulnerable and looks at mitigation and adaptation options to build community resilience to climate change effects.

In brief, vulnerability of a group or people is determined by three main factors:

1 – the extent to which they are affected by climatic events (sensitivity)

2 – exposure to hazards

3 – the ability to avoid or adjust to potential hazards, the capacity to anticipate risk, to respond to climatic events, to recover and change (adaptive capacity)

We now live in a world where mitigation and adaptation became necessary. Village Earth’s class Building Climate Change Resilient Communities explores some of the options:

Mitigation: fuel efficient vehicles, solar and wind power, efficient lighting solutionms, improved land management and cultivation techniques, composting, wastewater treatment

Adaptation: smart agriculture, crop relocation, building seawalls and storm surge barriers, water reuse (rain harvesting and ocean water desalinization)

To enrol in the Building Climate Change Resilient Communities click here. Registration is open until April 17, 2017.

Update from VE Affiliate Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization on the Pine Ridge Reservation

 MILA YATAN PIKA PTE OYATE OKOLAKICIYE
(KNIFE CHIEF BUFFALO NATION ORGANIZATION)

PROJECT REPORT

This report covers the period of November & December 2016, and January 2017.    Mila Yatan Pika Pte Oyate Okolakiciye (Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization) continues to provide a home/pasture for members of the Pte Oyate (buffalo nation) and the community continues to reap the benefits in terms of spiritual and physical nourishment from them.

 

November, 2016

November 05 – The Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization held a strategic planning meeting in Porcupine, SD with Dave Bartechi of Village Earth, Inc..  Working session included revisions of the vision/mission statement and the name change from Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization to “Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Society,” drafting a calendar of events and other organizational matters.

November 10 – 13 – The “Lakota Koskalaka Wica Yuwita Pi” (Lakota Young Men’s Camp/Gathering) was held in Porcupine SD.  This Camp was sponsored by a number of societies within the Tiospaye Sakowin organization.   Due to the interest, two camps are held annually – fall and spring.

The photos below show a number of activities during the Camp.

 

November 15 – The Society attended the Oglala Sioux Parks & Recreation Authority (OSPRA) meeting to make a presentation on a proposal to continue to sub-lease a pasture for a home for our relatives, the buffalo.  The Board of Directors approved a six month contract with an option to sub-lease for another six months if the land is available.

The Society received a $10,000 grant from the Tanka Fund to assist with the pasture lease payment and with operational expenses.  This is deeply appreciated and assists greatly with the care of the buffalo.

 

December, 2016

December 01 – The Society met to discuss and make further plans for the Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Society website.  A meeting will be held in March with a Colorado company who will assist with the work.

December 16 & 17 – The Society hosted the “Lakota Mental Health First Aid Training” in Rapid City, SD.  Twenty-two (22) participants representing various Sioux tribes in SD were in attendance.  Trainers were Ethleen Iron Cloud-Two Dogs and Richard Two Dogs of Porcupine, SD.

December 21 – Spiritual offerings were made for the Winter Solstice (Wanicokan)

 

January 2017

The weather in December and January was extremely challenging with frigid temperatures often ranging below zero for days at a time.  Along with extreme cold, blizzards covered the area with blowing and drifting snow.  Many of the Pine Ridge Reservation residents were snowed in and could not leave their homes.  For many days, schools were closed and events were cancelled due to this extreme weather.

 

 

Future Events and Plans

.The caretaker continues to check on our relatives, the buffalo, two times per week depending on the weather and road accessibility.
Will co-facilitate cultural learning sessions for the community on the sacred ceremony of the Wi Wayang Wacipi (Sundance,  the Inipi (purification/renewal ceremony) and other sessions as determined .
Will begin the planning and preparation for the Manhood Ceremony to be held in the Spring.
Planning and preparation is in the process for the following camps:
Young Men’s Camp – To Be Determined

Children’s Camp and Young Women’s Camp – July 5 – 9, 2017 at Camp Bob Marshall in the Black Hills of SD

Manhood Ceremony completed by a young relative.

 

 

Conclusion

Again, we extend a heartfelt appreciation to the people who support our efforts whether it be financially, physically or spiritually.  Your support is truly appreciated and we especially appreciate the Tunkasila (spiritual entities) for their continued support and guidance.  We also acknowledge the Pte Oyate (Buffalo Nation) for what they inspire in us and for their teachings, i.e., protection of the young, conservation of the land and the strength and fortitude to endure whatever is placed in our path.  Lila wopila tanka! (We thank you all very much).

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

Email:  [email protected]

Telephone:  605-441-2914, 605-407-0091

Website:  www.knifechiefbuffalonation.org

or www.villageearth.org look for Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization under Global Affiliate.

Village Earth Affiliate ICA-Nepal educates school girls on menstrual hygiene.

  1. During menstruation we should not use old clothes rags
  2. We should use sanitary napkins during menstruation
  3. We should safely discard the used napkins
  4. We are left behind others when we use cloth napkins
  5. Napkins should be changed every 4 hours.
  6. Napkins shouldn’t be thrown away haphazardly
  7. We should bath every day during menstruation
  8. We should pack the napkin with papers and throw in dustbin
  9. We must change time and again otherwise there will be infection

These were some of the points presented by school girls when they were provided with case stories regarding menstruation problem during an awareness program conducted at Dolagiri School of Changunaryan.

Menstruation is a biological process among women which plays a major role in reproduction. Yet this process is considered socially impure which is why women don’t talk or discuss about it in public. The superstition of being negatively affected if a girl on menstruation touches something has been so deeply injected in people’s mind that still in rural parts of Nepal, girls are bound to stay outside home or separetely during periods. The girls in rural areas still use cloth pieces which make them vulnerable to many diseases and infections.

Considering the need to raise awareness on menstrual hygiene and practices, Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) Nepal has started the awareness raising programs on menstrual hygiene and use of sanitary napkins among school students. As the part of this program, the first awareness program was conducted in Dolagiri School of Changunarayan. The program is supported by ICA Japan. Total 30 students aged between 13 to 16 participated in the program which was facilitated by Ms. Sarala Timsina, Ms. Pritha Khanal and Ms. Devaka Shrestha.

During the program the students were provided with case stories out of which they presented the points which they felt were significant regarding menstrual hygiene. After the presentation of 4 groups, the facilitators explained more about the menstruation and how one should feel pure and holy during the period. Also, facilitators focused more on use of sanitary napkins rather than cloth pieces as they produce stains and can be prone to infections.

At the end, ICA Nepal provided packets of “Surakhshya” sanitary pads to school. The napkins are produced by the local women of Changunarayan which is an example of micro entrepreneurship for women empowerment as well.

 

 

 

Unprecedented Climatic Changes Posing Challenges to Indigenous Communities in Amazon Basin

It has been yet another unusual (read “warm, extreme weather fluctuation”) winter in New York City. More than once this year we had both winter weather (snow storm, below freezing temperatures) AND 70 degree days in one single week. Just this past Wednesday New York hit a whooping 70F degrees. Today, 2 days later, New Yorkers shivered in 30F high temperature. Early February smashed the 52 year mark for warmest temperature on record with 65 F on February 7th. Early the next day, temperatures plummeted to 30F. Luckily for us New Yorkers the most annoying thing this winter was to keep at hand both warm and cold weather clothes. And fight a few nasty colds that went around the offices.

We were not the only ones experiencing strange weather. Far away in Brazil, in the middle of Mato Grosso state, the indigenous peoples that populate Xingu Indigenous Park experienced unusual weather as well. Rains did not arrive in October as they have been for hundreds of years. There was some rain in January and then heavy rain in February. What did this meant for them? A few months with almost no food. Hunger. Their main crop, manioc, is usually planted in September. Because rain did not arrive during it usual schedule, the first planted manioc crop died. The communities replanted a new crop (note that they save only a certain number of manioc stems for planting). The second crop died as well: it did not rain. Third time was a charm this year: after the third crop was planted, the long awaited rains finally arrived in January and it looks like the third crop will make it. Three months later than normal. Still the rain pattern was strange, with scattered showers alternating with several hot sunny days, unusual for this time of the year.

The indigenous people of Xingu were not as lucky as New Yorkers. The climatic variability they experienced affected their food supplies. They went hungry for weeks and months. New Yorkers just kept switching from flip flops to down jackets in a matter of days.

The weather forecast for both places: beyond normal. Yes, we might have seen less snow in NYC because of La Niña, but still… a drop of 40 F in 2 days?

In Xingu, years of deforestation replaced cool moisture-producing forests with hot, dry pastures for cattle and massive soy fields. This has caused permanent changes the regional weather: less rain during the rainy season and increased heat during the dry season. In 2016, a scorching July gave birth to wild fires that burnt for weeks and wracked havoc in the already shrinking Xingu forests. Once rainy summers (I witnessed a 5-day period of almost continuous rain just 3 years ago in December) turned dry.

Our comfortable lives in New York City may not be drastically disrupted for now. We just need to have winter and spring clothes next to each other in our closets, get frustrated about it and vent on Facebook about the crazy weather swings our city has. In Xingu however, people are concerned about their lives. What will happen to their existence if they cannot grow manioc, what will they eat? With no rain and low river levels, not even fish can breed properly. Manioc and fish make 90% of their diet.

The communities of the indigenous park started thinking seriously how to become more resilient to all these climatic changes. 2017 is not the first year that their crops died; 2016 was similar, with one crop failing, not two like this year. Similar to New Yorkers, they are also thinking that maybe this is the new normal. They now meet in the center of their villages to find solutions that will ensure their food security: from irrigation methods (but with what funds?) to moving the crops location to changing the planting season. They are scrambling to find the most appropriate solutions. There is not enough past experience to provide advice on how to deal with this kind of problem. The elders have never faced similar weather shifts in their lifetime. They can only draw on past experiences when they used to move their manioc gardens when the soil became too depleted of nutrients to bear crops. This option is on the table. In fact, one village decided to split in two and form a smaller village further away, to alleviate the pressure the 300 strong population puts on the surrounding crop soil (see blog entry).

These changes are not going anywhere. These anomalies are becoming the new normal. All humans need to adapt, ones faster than others. Communities, from New York to Xingu have to become resilient and adapt to extreme weather, a consequence of climate change.

The “Building Climate Change Resilient Communities” class offered by Village Earth in April offers insights on what climate change resilience is and how to adapt to this new climatic reality.

How to Teach Health: Providing Quality Primary Healthcare to Impoverished, Rural, Isolated Communities

By John Straw, Executive Director at Concern America and Instructor for the Village Earth Community-Based Health online course

Village Earth’s Community Health course focuses on the many challenges, but also opportunities, related to health care (or the lack thereof) in materially impoverished regions of our world.  The course explores a range of insights and actions from methods for determining health needs to creating community-centered approaches for bringing care with/for regions lacking this important human right.  One hopeful program is Concern America’s Health Promoter Practitioner model.  The organization has just self-published a 35-book set of training manuals and student guides in Spanish titled “Cómo Enseñar Sobre La Salud” (How To Teach Health), a resource for organizations wanting to implement comprehensive community health programs in which the people themselves are the health care providers.  The books will soon be sold through The Hesperian Foundation, publisher of the well known resource “Where There Is No Doctor.”

THERE EXISTS A MODEL OF COMMUNITY-BASED, PRIMARY HEALTH CARE THAT IS AFFORDABLE AND EFFECTIVE.  IT IS A MODEL THAT ENGAGES COMMUNITY MEMBERS IN ITS PROVISION: “THE TRAINING AND ACCOMPANYING OF HEALTH PROMOTER PRACTITIONERS”.

In the U.S., the term “health promoter” often refers to individuals who provide health education and basic health care follow-up under the strict supervision of a medical doctor.  In the regions of Latin America where Concern America works, these Health Promoter Practitioners’ depth of knowledge, skills, and ability to provide primary health care, in their native languages, is comparable to the work of physician assistants and nurse practitioners in the U.S.  As a result, in villages located hours away from health care centers and whose residents earn less than $2.00/day, high-quality, low-cost health care is a reality, saving and sustaining innumerable lives, using few resources.

In places like Chiapas, Mexico; Petén, Guatemala; and the Lower Atrato region of Colombia, the health care providers who give daily care in hundreds of villages and towns are not doctors or nurses but rather Health Promoter Practitioners.  These amazing community health care providers, many with less than three years of primary school, have been successfully trained as their communities’ medical practitioners who diagnose and treat patients, administer a wide range of medicines, and even perform surgeries like the tendon repair described above.

The series of books, entitled CÓMO ENSEÑAR SOBRE LA SALUD, employs the wisdom of Paulo Freire’s pedagogy, building on each student’s knowledge and understanding when teaching complicated medical concepts and procedures. There are 35 books in all and three levels of training: a teacher’s guide and a student handbook for each health care theme (e.g., Digestive System) taught over three years.   What is described, presented, and taught in CÓMO ENSEÑAR SOBRE LA SALUD has been fashioned by and in use by Concern America field teams in Latin America over more than 30 years and found to be extraordinarily effective in providing quality primary health care to impoverished, rural, isolated communities.  We want to multiply this model, which is why Concern America is writing CÓMO ENSEÑAR SOBRE LA SALUD.  It will eventually be translated into French and English and, hopefully, adapted to many indigenous languages.

 

FIRST LEVEL OVERVIEW

The Teacher Guides

Each First Level Teacher’s Guide covers important topics such as:

  • How to organize a course and how to teach Health Promoters
  • How to organize community groups
  • How to teach about the use of medicines
  • How to teach about respiratory and digestive diseases
  • How to teach about nutrition and environment

Student Handbooks

Each reference book for the Health Promoter student contains informative documents about how to prevent, diagnose and treat the most common sicknesses and when to refer a patient.

  • The language is simple.
  • The illustrations are clear.
  • The treatment and diagnostic guidelines are easy to understand.

SECOND LEVEL OVERVIEW

Teacher Guides

Second Level Teacher Guides cover the following topics:

  • How to teach about accidents and traumas
  • How to teach about reproductive health
  • How to teach about pregnancy and delivery
  • How to teach about chronic diseases
  • How to teach about dental and oral care

Student’s Handbook

  • The language is progressively more complex.
  • The graphics are explicit and educational.
  • The treatment and diagnostic guidelines are still easy to understand and to adapt.

ELECTRONIC ANNEX

AND THIRD LEVEL OVERVIEW

An Electronic Annex is included with the Teacher Guides. It is an educational tool where the teacher can find:

  • Pictures to project and ready to use Power Points documents
  • Sounds to listen to and recognize symptoms
  • Videos
  • Ready to print games, tests/evaluations and worksheets
  • Ready to print Student Handbooks with and without page numbers, giving flexibility to the teacher to build one’s own customized Student Handbook
  • A PDF of each one of the Teacher’s Guides and Student’s Handbooks from the “Cómo Enseñar Sobre La Salud” series
  • Third level handouts

THE ESSENTIAL MEDICINE INDEX

A vital part of the series “Cómo Enseñar Sobre La Salud,” the Essential Medicine Index (Índice de Medicamentos Esenciales) is THE REFERENCE BOOK of medicine for Health Promoters.

Its very simple and easy to read format and content makes it an indispensable every day tool for beginners and advanced Health Promoters. It contains information about the most prescribed essential medicines. It contains information about the most prescribed essential medicines recommended by the W.H.O.

 

For more information or to purchase the books, please visit Concern America Health Manuals.

To enroll in the Community-Based Health Course click here. Now enrolling through February 28, 2017.

Spring Session II Courses Now Open for Registration in Online Certificate Program in Sustainable Community Development

 

Classes for the Village Earth/CSU online certificate program in Sustainable Community Development are open for registration until March 3rd, 3017. This session we are offering four courses: Participatory Monitoring and EvaluationDevelopment and the Politics of EmpowermentCommunity-Based Health, and Community-Based Mapping.

Descriptions, instructor profiles, and registration links for each course can be found below.

PARTICIPATORY MONITORING & EVALUATION

Course Tuition:  $390
Continuing Education Units: 2
Duration: 5 weeks

Next OfferedDeadline to RegisterRegistration StatusOffered By 
June 9 - July 14, 2017June 5, 2017Open

Course Description

Discover participatory methods in monitoring and evaluation for community development, where multiple stakeholders are involved in the process of planning, collecting, interpreting, communicating, and using information. Gain skills in using regular monitoring and evaluation processes, which will lead to continuous improvements.

Upon completion of this course participants will be able to:

  • Plan a monitoring and evaluation project
  • Develop evaluation questions that address stakeholders needs
  • Select the most appropriate data collection method for a given situation
  • Effectively communicate monitoring and evaluation data
  • Use the monitoring information for effective feedback and improvement

Instructor

Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation

Pilar Robledo

Pilar is currently Director of Programming and Training for US Peace Corps in Kiev, Ukraine. She’s also serves as Education Cluster Co-lead at UNICEF Pakistan. Previously she’s worked for UNHCR, Save the Children, International Rescue Committee, and IREX. She holds an MPA in Public Administration from University of Colorado, Denver and a BA in Anthropology and Latin American Studies from CU Boulder.

 

 

 


DEVELOPMENT AND THE POLITICS OF EMPOWERMENT

Course Tuition:  $390
Continuing Education Units (CEU’s): 2
Duration: 5 weeks

Next OfferedDeadline to RegisterRegistration StatusOffered By 
March 3 – April 7, 2017February 28, 2017Open

Course Description

“…development is a process of empowerment.”
–Edwards, The Irrelevance of Development Studies

Over the last few decades, many scholars have begun to challenge traditional conceptions of development. Their work has generated an intense debate between those that attribute “underdevelopment” to cultural factors, and those that dismiss such ideas as racially motivated and instead recognize poverty and marginalization as primarily structural and systemic issues. Indeed, the concept of poverty itself has been challenged. Employing this critical lens, the course will examine the assertion that development should not only be seen as an economic process of wealth accumulation, but rather as a socio-political process of empowerment. This realization has major implications for how NGOs approach development, as it brings to light the fact that this work has a substantial political component. In order to overcome the disadvantages of poverty, structural barriers to success must be addressed. Through a careful investigation of the historical applications of development, we will explore the idea that development is an inherently political process and challenge the claim that any development NGO is apolitical. Additionally, we will strive to identify successful methods of community empowerment through political organization.

Upon completion of this course participants will be able to:

  • Analyze the underlying political implications and perspectives of seemingly apolitical actions in development work
  • Apply and refine techniques of empowerment and advocacy
  • Explain the history of development thinking as it relates to politics
  • Articulate a broader understanding of key terms, such as empowerment, participation, politics, and power

Instructor

Jamie Way, M.A.

Jamie received her M.A. in Political Science from Colorado State University. Her academic work focused on Latin America, international development, political theory and indigenous rights. She has worked with Village Earth since 2008 and now holds the position of Training Director for Village Earth/Colorado State University’s online certificate program in Community-Based Development. She has also been involved with Village Earth’s work on the Pine Ridge Reservation and in the Peruvian Amazon for the past three years. Her specialties include advocacy campaigns, strategic planning, issue framing and training for social justice.

Jamie speaks Spanish and Portuguese and is studying Chinese in Beijing. She is also currently working as Media and Communications Coordinator at Alliance for Global Justice, a Latin America solidarity organization.  Jamie teaches online courses on Approaches to Community Development, Development and the Politics of Empowerment and Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation.


COMMUNITY-BASED HEALTH

Course Tuition:  $390
Continuing Education Units (CEU’s): 2
Duration: 5 Weeks

Next OfferedDeadline to RegisterRegistration StatusOffered By 
March 3 – April 7, 2017February 28, 2017Open

Course Description

Access to health care and other resources, such as nutritious foods, employment, clean water, safe housing, education, etc. are crucial to maintaining health and well-being.  In an ideal world, everyone would have access to these essential means for survival, however, it is all too apparent that this is not the case for many communities and populations around the world.  It is desirable, therefore, for those groups who are not supported by a formal health care system to seek alternative solutions for the resources they lack.  Using case studies and other readings, along with group discussion, this course will explore the global, social, political, economic, and cultural factors that contribute to poor health.  It will also look at methods for empowering communities who lack access to health care to create practical solutions that are relevant to their unique situations.  Community-Based Participatory Research will be one of the key strategies dealt with in this course due to its focus on promoting change at the grass roots level.

Upon completion of this course participants will be able to:

  • Identify micro and macro level factors that affect health and well-being.
  • Collaborate with communities to evaluate their needs in regard to health and cultivate ideas for appropriate actions to address those needs.
  • Provide support for community-based solutions to health issues by establishing connections to information and resources.

Instructor

JohnStrawJohn Straw, M.Ed.

John Straw has an M.Ed. from the University of Illinois at Chicago, focused on social justice education, and his bachelors from the University of Michigan with a degree in Spanish and Education. John has spent five years working in Honduras and Guatemala on community-based health and development projects, and the past 15 years working with Concern America, an international development and refugee aid organization, based in southern California, with health, water, and income-generation projects in Latin America and Africa. He has been the Executive Director of Concern America since 2012.


COMMUNITY-BASED MAPPING

Course Tuition:  $390
Continuing Education Units (CEUs): 2
Duration: 5 weeks

Next OfferedDeadline to RegisterRegistration StatusOffered By 
March 3 – April 7, 2017February 28, 2017Open
 

Course Description

Mapping can be a powerful tool for communities to use to better manage their resources, plan for the future, record and utilize local knowledge, raise awareness about areas of concern in their environmental and social landscape, and communicate their priorities and concerns to external agencies or government officials. This course will explore theories, ethics, applications, and methods of community-based mapping and its role in participatory learning and action as well as larger processes of integrated community-based development. Students will be encouraged to develop a specific research/mapping question relevant to their interests and/or work and with the help of the instructor, will identity the mapping methods and tools to answer that question creating both a final product for the course as well as solid foundation that can be utilized in a more community-based research setting.

Upon completion of this course participants will be able to:

  • Summarize the basic principles, theories, and ethics of Community-based mapping and its role in Community-based development
  • Identify which mapping methods and tools are most appropriate to achieve the desired objectives in your community
  • Locate and utilize existing geographic information data sets, online and elsewhere, for specific project areas
  • Perform some basic mapping functions including projecting GPS coordinates onto a map, downloading and projecting satellite images, creating features from aerial imagery, and more.

Testimonials from Past Course Participants for Community-based Mapping:

“I am grateful to this course to make me think about space and power in such pronounced and palpable terms.” – UNDP Employee

“The assertion that mapping is power and that there are differences between mapping and community based mapping stuns me. This whole course is really an eye opener…These assigned readings make me think…One of the most profound readings was on the ethical considerations. More thinking – what am I trying to do here. As part of my job, merely asking programs to use maps of someone else’s making to communicate where they are and what they’re proposing to do in those locations. Not so simple, eh?”

David Bartecchi, M.A.

Dave received his M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Colorado State University and has worked with Village Earth since 1998.  He is now the executive director of Village Earth.  Since 2000 he has been working with grassroots groups on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to recover lands for community-based bison restoration. He has also worked with the indigenous groups in Peru and Ecuador and trained and consulted on community-based development projects in in Azerbaijan, Armenia, India as well as with Native American tribes in California and Oklahoma.  He has been an instrumental part of several research projects with CSU’s Department of Anthropology including a 6 year longitudinal study of the informal economy on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota funded by the National Science Foundation, a survey of farmers and ranchers participating in the National Conservation Reserve Program conducted by CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Lab and funded by the USDA, and community-based censuses on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations in South Dakota.

Dave teaches online courses in Approaches to Community Development, Community Mobilization, and Community-based Mapping.


 

2017 Online Courses are OPEN for Registration

All Spring 2017 online Sustainable Community Development Certificate courses are open for registration. The deadline to register for the first session is January 9, 2017.

January 13 – February 17, 2017

March 3 – April 7, 2017

April 21 – May 26, 2017

 


SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT

Next Offered Deadline to Register Registration Status Offered By
January 13 – February 17, 2017 January 9, 2017 Open

Course Description

One of the biggest challenges we face in today’s global economy is the alleviation and ultimate elimination, of poverty. Unemployment, lack of economic opportunities and the inability to provide for one’s needs and those of one’s family, lead to destructive consequences at the individual level and can lead to crime and armed conflict at the social level. While the latest development theory recognizes the importance of entrepreneurship and micro-enterprise generation in combating poverty, providing employment and increasing income, in order to address poverty at the grass-roots level, we need to explore the intersection of traditional business concepts with social venturing. This course aims to provide an understanding of social entrepreneurship that will help us put theory into practice in a meaningful way.

This course will examine entrepreneurship and enterprise generation as a key foundation of the development of both economic and social capital, as well as individual and community empowerment. Its main emphasis will be the exploration of entrepreneurship with an imperative to drive social change and build sustainable ventures. Its focus will be on designing enterprises for the base of the economic pyramid in the context of disadvantaged communities. We will participate in the unfolding dialogue about what constitutes a “social entrepreneur”, develop an understanding of the power of “disruptive innovation”, and study success stories from around the world, thereby gaining valuable insights into how to develop our own enterprises.

This course will require critical thinking, be highly interactive, and students will share their experiences, ideas, insights and challenges. Participants will be able to apply the learning from this course to their own start-ups and field projects.

Instructor:

Vinod Parekh

Social Entrepreneur, Proprietor of Human Development Services, Consultant Trainer and Mentor of several companies, visiting and online faculty at Colorado State University, Independent Director Man Diesel and Turbo India, World traveler.

I began my career in Sales and Marketing and then went on to be with BBC UK and trained as a Broadcaster before I discovered my passion for people development. I continue to be a student of Personal, Organisational and Community Transformation. Education: Organisational Development (OD) Chicago USA, Psychology Major: University of Nagpur, India. Marketing Management at NTC, Calcutta, India. Early Career: Radio and Television Broadcasting, BBC, London, Glasgow, Director Community Development Projects of the Institute of Cultural Affairs International, Chicago, USA an affiliate of the UN.

Current Responsibilities:
• Director-Human Development Services & Human Development Consultants and Trainers-A management consultancy- leadership training and development enterprise which specializes in conducting management alignment, team building, personal and organizational effectiveness enhancement programs for public, private , academic and voluntary sectors.
• Chairman-Unnati Enterprises – A Socio-Economic Enterprise dedicated to empowering rurban communities particularly youth;
• Mentor -Teaching Learning Community of Small & Medium Scale entrepreneurs;
• Visiting Faculty at: Maharashtra Police Academy, India International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Colorado State University ,USA; Several Management Colleges and Institutes including Bharati Vidyapeet Institute for Management studies and Research, Moonje Mgt Institute, Mahatma Gandhi Management Institutes (MBA program) of the University of Pune, India Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and Tuljapur;
•Independent Director- MAN Diesel Turbo

Previous Positions:
• Marketing Director-Communication Services, Hyderabad, India.
• Consultant / Trainer- Institute of Cultural Affairs-International, Chicago USA.
• Director Community and Village Development Projects, Maharashtra-India
• Project Director-Community Development Programme, Lusaka, Zambia.

Areas of Expertise:
•Designing and facilitating needs based training and development programmes aimed towards personal, organizational/community transformation using the Technology of Participative Management (ToP)
•Bridging intercultural gaps.

Passion: Traveling, interacting with people.

My MISSION – To equip individuals, communities and organizations (for and not for profit) with practical mindset change techniques and soft skills tools towards enhancing their overall effectiveness. My VISION – Personal and organizational/community transformation.


APPROACHES TO COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Next Offered Deadline to Register Registration Status Offered By
January 13 – February 17, 2017 January 9, 2017 Open
April 21 – May 26, 2017 April 18, 2017 Open

Course Description

Explore both the structure and practice of community development around the world.  Engage in a critical analysis of different approaches to community development, their historical development and underlying assumptions.  Gain an understanding of the structural and practical issues that promote or detract from the goal of community empowerment.

Instructor:

David Bartecchi, M.A.

Dave received his M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Colorado State University and has worked with Village Earth since 1998.  He is now the executive director of Village Earth.  Since 2000 he has been working with grassroots groups on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to recover lands for community-based bison restoration. He has also worked with the indigenous groups in Peru and Ecuador and trained and consulted on community-based development projects in in Azerbaijan, Armenia, India as well as with Native American tribes in California and Oklahoma.  He has been an instrumental part of several research projects with CSU’s Department of Anthropology including a 6 year longitudinal study of the informal economy on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota funded by the National Science Foundation, a survey of farmers and ranchers participating in the National Conservation Reserve Program conducted by CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Lab and funded by the USDA, and community-based censuses on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations in South Dakota. Dave teaches online courses in Approaches to Community Development, Community Mobilization, and Community-based Mapping.


COMMUNITY-BASED FOOD SYSTEMS

Next Offered Deadline to Register Registration Status Offered By
January 13 – February 17, 2017 January 9, 2017 Open

The cultivation, preparation, distribution, and consumption of food are practices that shape how we organize ourselves socially, economically and politically. Control over food is central to the sustainability and self-determination of communities. In this seminar, you will learn about different approaches to building community-based food systems and movements for food justice around the world. Together, we will evaluate various strategies for protecting community food resources and rebuilding local food economies, as well as the factors that threaten these efforts. With special consideration for marginalized communities in the global North and South, students will develop a conceptual toolkit and set of resources to help them assess the limitations and possibilities of their own community’s food system.

Instructors:

This course is facilitated by the International Agroecology Action Network (IAEAN) a consultancy group composed of ultra-motivated scientists willing to work hard to change the world. Although we are all agroecologists, we combine our diverse backgrounds and skills in order to dynamically implement sustainable and effective projects. Our pool of available consultants offer a wide range of skills and competences. We seek to improve society through our actions and research and we believe that both grassroots and top-down approaches are necessary to drive systemic change. Our members are currently involved in international organizations, private companies, development associations and in academic spheres.

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2016 Holiday Fundraising Campaign to Support Village Earth’s Global Affiliates

2016holidaycampaign

Olimometer 2.52

 Global Affiliate NameGeographic FocusAbout 
Facebook-Vert-LogoVillage Earth Area of Most NeedGlobalLet Village Earth decide how best to allocate your donation.
AmahoroAmahoro ProjectBurundiAmahoro project is a collaboration betweeen Colorado State University and Ngozi University in Burundi (UNG) to establish UNG as a ongoing site and dissemination center for research in sustainable peace and development.
CRDTCambodia Rural Development Team Northeast CambodiaWorks to sustainably improve food security, incomes, and living standards of subsistence rural communities in support of environmental conservation throughout Cambodia.
Earth TipiEarth TipiPine Ridge Reservation, SDWorks to sustainably improve food security, incomes, and living standards of subsistence rural communities in support of environmental conservation throughout Cambodia.
Eco_VEco-Friendly VolunteersSri LankaECO-V is a voluntary organization engaged in environmental conservation in Sri Lanka. ECO-V has a network of 400 volunteers throughout Sri Lanka who contribute to research and community work to support conservation of the environment.
EYCEmpowering Youth CambodiaPnom Penh, CambodiaEYC is a organization working to improve the lives of young people and their families. Our vision is to see youth empowered with skills & confidence to be leaders who actively develop themselves, their families and community.
FOFCODForum for Community Change and DevelopmentSouth SudanFOFCOD envisions a new generation of productive and self-reliant south Sudanese who can ably participate in community development programs to meet their needs and those of other disadvantaged groups.
GOLDGrowing Liberia Democracy (GOLD)LiberiaGOLD promotes poverty reduction as well as democratic & high quality governance by empowering local communities to effectively engage their law makers as to make policy decisions favorable for Liberians and to be fully transparent.
ICA_NEPAlInstitute of Cultural Affairs (Nepal)NepalICA’s mission is to promote social innovation through participation and community building. We do this throughout the country through training, facilitation & development activities.  
Human-and-Hope-Association-500x500Human and Hope AssociationSiem Reap, CambodiaHuman and Hope Association works to empower Cambodians to create sustainable futures for themselves through projects focused on education, vocational training and community support.
JalambaJalamba Nursery School ProjectThe GambiaThe goal of the of the Association is to empower youths, children and vulnerable families through education. The project has government support as a new school  which will serve ages of one through six. 
JenzeraJenzeraColombiaSupports community processes so that people can freely decide on their social, political and economic lives by defending their territories, empowering their own governments and developing a self-managed economies.
KnifeChiefKnife Chief Buffalo NationPine Ridge Reservation, SDThe Knife Chief Buffalo Nation, a grassroots project on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, works to reclaim 1800 acres of ancestral lands for restoring buffalo, and Lakota culture and lifeways.
LBCCLakota Buffalo Caretakers CooperativePine Ridge Reservation, SDThe Lakota Buffalo Caretakers Cooperative (LBCC) is a 100% Native American owned and operated cooperative association on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Its membership is made up of small family buffalo caretakers who respect the buffalo and the land. Members of the LBCC are committed to the restoration of the northern plains ecology, self-sufficiency and strengthening the sovereignty and self-determination of the Oglala Lakota Nation and all indigenous peoples.
LLRPLakota Lands Recovery ProjectSouth Dakota ReservationsThe LLRP works to reclaim and consolidate tribal lands and access the resources needed for the Lakota people to live on, protect, and utilize it — promoting self-determination and sovereignty.
MalocaMalocaAmazon BasinWorks with Indigenous Peoples living in the Amazon Basin. It works directly with Indigenous leaders to raise awareness about the needs of their communities and find means to establish self-sustaining strategies to address their needs.
TasunkeWakanTasunke WakanPine Ridge Reservation, SDOur primary goal is to develop and implement Lakol Wicohan (Lakota life ways and laws, which includes language, values, beliefs, ceremonies and laws of the Lakota people) within the Oyate (Community).
TRCDATitukuke RCDAPetuake, ZambiaTRCDA is devoted to to uplifting livelihoods, reducing illiteracy, poverty and HIV/AIDS Health problems among the communities in Petauke, Zambia