Sustainable Community Development

CEPAD works in partnership with vulnerable villages in Nicaragua to create sustainable, holistic change. We work in 40-50 communities at a time for five years with a focus on leadership training, economic development and food security and care for the environment. The needs and existing resources of each community drive the projects, which ensures long term success and the identification of local solutions of local needs.

In 42 years of work, CEPAD has helped 4,277 communities achieve economic stability, food security and family leadership.

If you or your church would like to support a project that still needs financing, please visit the following page for a list of available projects: Projects to Fund

  • Leadership Development

    CEPAD works with leaders at all levels in rural communities to help strengthen their leadership capabilities with the goal of bringing additional resources and answer the needs of the citizens of each village.

    • Community leaders receive training from CEPAD in leadership and community organizing so they can develop new resources and work with the local government to achieve their goals. Leaders create a formal committee that identifies community needs and creates strategies to meet them. In each five year period, we train more than 250 leaders who advocate for infrastructure projects such as road repair, electricity, and communal wells. These committee members also serve as leaders in the communities and as main points of contact for CEPAD.
    • Children and youth who participate in CEPAD’s youth leadership programs learn skills like public speaking, leadership and care for the environment. They play sports, create art and develop self-esteem. The women and older teens who lead these programs in each community receive training to identify children at risk for violence in the home, drug and alcohol use, and low school achievement so they can give special attention to those participants.
    • Violence against women is the number one crime in rural Nicaragua. CEPAD teaches women in our partner communities about their rights and gives them tools to escape violent homes and help their friends and family members do the same.
    • Pastors serve as community leaders in areas without formal government structures. From 2009-2014, we worked with 180 pastors and created 18 pastoral committees. CEPAD provides practical workshops and self-study programs in theology to pastors and their congregations. Pastors, leaders and congregants select topics such as stewardship of creation, biblical origins and translations, domestic violence, self-esteem, and working with youth.
  • Women’s Economic Development

    This program focuses on women and youth in the partner communities, generating skills and abilities that encourage participation in the community.

    • Community banking: CEPAD helps women to organize community banks where a group of 7-8 women come together to become financially literate through training and then take out a loan together. By taking a loan as a group there is greater accountability as each member is accountable to the group to pay her piece of the loan on time. These loans are used to invest in women’s small businesses. For example, one woman may need the credit to purchase food in bulk and then can sell it at a higher price in her village and easily repay the loan and make money through her store.
    • Work Training Centers (new!): Many women in rural villages have expressed the need to learn new skills that they could then use to market or make things to sell. In 2015 CEPAD began a new project to give women the opportunity to do just this. Women come together in groups to learn how to make pinatas, jewelry and typical Nicaraguan foods, items which they can market in their communities. By just coming together, learning and sharing their experiences women also boost their self-esteem.
    • Patio Project: Through this project CEPAD provides women with financing to purchase pigs and chickens to raise and reproduce right in their backyards. The women use these pigs and chickens not only to raise and sell to increase their incomes, but they are also eaten so that families have access to animal proteins in their diets, something that is often lacking in homes.
  • Food Security and Care for the Environment

    CEPAD works with small farmers to increase food production, improve economies, and protect natural resources. We promote organic techniques and train producers with very small farms (usually fewer than five acres) to implement them. We train at least five farmers in each community to make their own fertilizer, diversify crops, avoid chemical pesticides and use water efficiently and in turn teach those techniques to their neighbors. They each then teach five more the techniques they learned from CEPAD. In three years, farmers transition from growing only staple crops like beans and corn to producing more than 25 varieties of fruits, vegetables and wood trees.