CEPAD (Consejo de Inglesias Evangelicas Pro-Alianza Denominacional or the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua) is a source of hope for often isolated, rural communities. The organisation grew from local churches responding to people affected by the magnitude 6.3 Managua earthquake in 1972. Now CEPAD focuses on development and peacemaking.
Their approach is to work with communities for five years. The process begins in conversations with village people – 40 new communities began this cycle in January 2021. Under CEPAD’s guidance, they will devise their own community plan setting out the village’s priorities. Once agreement is reached, the village chooses the development committee members who will have responsibility for making it work and ensuring no one misses out.
CEPAD’s agricultural staff train and support local farmers to manage the scarce water supply and improve crop production using eco-friendly techniques. Staff provide plants, seeds, irrigation and tools to supplement what is available, improving the diet and health of families. In addition, women learn to grow new foods in their home gardens and some get help to establish small poultry units or breed pigs.
The needs of women are a priority in a country where gender relations are strained by poverty. Women learn how to make crafts and some have set up small businesses to increase family income. They learn their legal rights and find support to deal with gender-based violence.
CEPAD pays attention to the needs of young people in these 40 communities. The lack of work and hope, drugs, alcohol and family violence are common difficulties and there is no outside help available. CEPAD trains three people in each community to run a psychosocial programme involving sports and activities as well as self-help groups. When necessary the local leaders can refer people for extra help.
community projects were implemented including road improvements, better water supply, latrines and sewerage treatment.
women are growing better gardens and raising a pig or chickens so they can feed their families.
young people received support for addictions, domestic violence, emotional crises and learning difficulties from peers, trained in community-based psycho-social care.