We work with local communities that have been excluded by government development policies, helping them implement their own local initiatives and advocate for more just social and environmental policies.
By providing assistance with strategic planning and ongoing access to technical expertise, EcoViva supports an ongoing process of local democracy, sustainable community development and effective policy advocacy.
Coastal communities in El Salvador face tremendous adversity—enough to bring former enemies together toward common goals. Faced with repeated floods and torrential hurricanes, communities in the Lower Lempa River Basin began organizing in the mid-1990s to better prepare for the impact of these natural disasters. As participation grew, community-wide councils were created for the purpose of having a permanent forum for addressing vulnerability to natural disasters, gang violence and other community problems.
Once just an idea shared by six men and women in a community flood shelter, this social movement has grown to include over 100 rural communities in the Lower Lempa and Bay of Jiquilisco at varying levels of participation. Currently, residents from at least 76 communities elect representatives to 10 regional councils, and these councils elect representatives to a General Assembly.
Council members come from a variety of sectors, and many of the strongest leaders are women and youth. They convene regularly to discuss issues that concern them, such as food security, livelihoods, environmental protection, community health and youth empowerment. Together, they create strategic plans and specific goals which guide their development projects. The community councils oversee the staff who implement these projects, and evaluate the projects yearly to ensure they are meeting their goals.
Our staff works directly with local leadership to help them with program planning and evaluation, and ongoing problem-solving. We also facilitate a unique partnership between our local partners and Team Monterey, a program of the Monterey Institute for International Studies, which sends skilled graduate students to El Salvador each year to provide external evaluation of field projects.
These ongoing relationships provide concrete support to local leaders as they work to resolve community conflicts and come to common agreements on how to best manage their natural resources and promote community well-being.