Raleigh International are privileged to run projects throughout Costa Rica and Nicaragua; working alongside communities and local people in beautiful areas which are often incredibly remote. Ensuring sustainability is incredibly important for Raleigh and to achieve this, the charity work within a framework of objectives and outcomes specific to every project.
Raleigh CR&N have worked in many communities, completing incredible projects which have benefited many people throughout the two countries. Volunteers will continuing this work during Expedition 13A, undertaking a number of projects including building a pre-school, a health post and helping create new trails in a national park. However the infrastructure or hardware is not the ultimate aim –the project framework ensures the best outcomes for every person the project touches.
Working closely with the community
When people think Raleigh they may well think digging, building or installing infrastructure but that is only one part of the story, there are additional activities and outcomes that Raleigh and the communities we work with hope to achieve. Here’s how we frame sustainable projects:
Peer to peer education: trying to support and mobilize the communities’ younger demographic for instance, engaging them in the project and helping to achieve the project aims which could include working with the communities’ youth groups.
Action Research: all of the communities want to understand the issues they are confronting better. With the information gathered by Raleigh’s project teams they’re better able to understand and achieve the best results. So if related to a water project, where are all the houses? What is the situation we are facing with regards to water? How much water do we need? All these questions need to be thought about if the projects are going to be successful and enduring.
By undertaking baseline surveys, learning about the communities i.e. the population, the situation surrounding health and basic sanitation and their attitudes towards the environment we can begin to understand their main objectives and we can work with them more effectively. Alongside this there is community mapping: where do people live, what resources they have? Also research into the community’s history; what has happened in the past, what were their ancestors like, are certain practices actually traditions based on their heritage?
We are undertaking a preschool build in San Ramon, Searez, but how are children educated now in the community? Our project teams will be researching this and other issues
Through this information project teams are better informed to undertake a specific project and can maximize the returns with the community.
Awareness Raising: in terms of a water project, understanding that a healthy forest surrounding the water tanks is going to be to the benefit of the long-term sustainability of the water project. Activities like an ‘Action Day’ where all members of the community are included and promotion of reforestation would be explained. Lack of education and how that will impact their children moving forward, all groups during their project will do this.
Resource Development: manuals and instructions created by the project teams which explain exactly to manage the infrastructure, create a strategy for the year i.e. in these months you need to clean the tanks or when building inspections should occur on these dates. Or it will be a manual for the permanent Raleigh country staff so they know what issues may crop up and how to fix x, y and z.
Training: supporting communities and partners by helping them set up committees to ensure management of the projects so that once the Raleigh Teams have left the specific communities the project won’t fall apart. It is an important part of the work Raleigh do and ensuring the sustainability of it’s projects.
The infrastructure is important, but the framework ensures the best outcome for all
The issues Raleigh face with their project partners and communities they work with are complex and difficult to help solve, but by understanding and following this framework it goes some way to ensuring the sustainability of the projects Raleigh International undertake and hopefully benefitting every stakeholder.