ADIC’s objectives are to strengthen the capacity of communities, to support development respectful of the environment and based in equitable relationships between men and women, and to elicit broad, direct participation in community decision-making, with specific attention to women and adolescents. These objectives are the focus of ADIC’s work, which is organized into three areas: community organizing, environment, policy advocacy.
ADIC’s work in community organizing is a supportive process aimed at strengthening the community’s own organizations, or creating them if none exist, and increasing their capabilities in community development and management. ADIC uses a methodology that promotes inclusion and participation of all stakeholders and that affords reflection on their own reality and its possibilities for change. Activities include convening community meetings, informing the community of resources available to them, engaging and training community members in the development process, monitoring the progress of development projects, and other forms of support that are carried out both as a means of enhancing the community’s development- infrastructure outcomes, but also as an end in themselves, with emphasis the on community organizing.
ADIC’s work can be broken down into the following phases: 1) Community Diagnostic, in which the community identifies and prioritizes their needs; 2) Community Strategic Plan, created by the community with ADIC’s assistance which outlines the steps to be undertaken to address the community’s needs; 3) Agreements, which make the relationship between the community and ADIC official and designate expectations and responsibilities of the development projects, 4) Strategic Administration, during which the development projects are carried out, and 5) Evaluation, using a set of tools to determine the success of the project and learn from it.
The whole process generally last three years, at the end of which the community is able to maintain any new infrastructure on their own. For example, a water system project will have established community committees to oversee various components of the system’s maintenance and a fund into which community members pay a small monthly amount (less than a dollar) for the system’s upkeep. If a pipe breaks, the community is able to replace it on their own.
Women and Youth
ADIC defines a broad concept of health that includes preventative health measures, sanitary infrastructure, and emotional health. The emotional health piece is addressed in ADIC’s special attention to marginalized populations, namely women and children, who encounter obstacles to healthy personal growth due to violence, oppression, and inequality in power relations. ADIC fosters community women’s and youth groups and hosts regular workshops for them with topics such as sexual and reproductive health, gender, leadership, environment, self-esteem, and rights/laws. The promotion of a family and social infrastructure that is free of violence and discrimination is a key part of ADIC’s capacity-building and strengthening of community organizations.
Another way in which ADIC is supporting the personal development of community members is with its programs for children and adolescents. ADIC runs a before-school/after-school tutoring program for students who live in the Matagalpa neighborhoods where ADIC works. A recently established program has given secondary school students and opportunity to become pen pals with secondary school students in Germany. ADIC also provides about 30 scholarships in each community where they work. These scholarships pay for children’s school expenses in families that can’t afford such items: notebooks, pencils, backpacks, uniforms, shoes, etc.
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ADIC’s Environment Department coordinates its community development projects, and is so named because the majority of these projects seek to improve the state of the local environmental infrastructure to address sanitation, health, and quality of life concerns. This work transfers ADIC’s expertise with innovative technologies that protect the environment and natural resources to the communities. Examples of these projects include the installation of potable water systems and rainwater-collecting wells, the construction of eco-latrines, the establishment of nurseries, the reforestation of communities with fruit and wood trees, the cultivation of family gardens, and the distribution of stoves that use discarded coffee bean pulp as fuel.
This department also initiates income-generating projects for women as a step toward greater economic independence and as an additional financial resource for their families. Such projects include training in paper recycling and the raising of small animals, such as chickens and pigs.
ADIC has also been able to assist communities in the construction of communal houses. A community’s communal house is a building that belongs to everyone in the community and is used for meetings and organizing activities.
Fostering environmental awareness within communities in and around Matagalpa is a large part of what ADIC does. They work with many communities located in rural areas who are dependent on the health and cleanliness of their ecosystems for their own survival. In conjunction with the development projects and community organizing activities, ADIC brings a lot of attention to local environmental concerns, such as clean water. One aspect of this works consists of providing environmental education in schools. ADIC’s staff members visit classrooms and teach children the importance of the environment and how to protect it.
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ADIC’s work in the area of policy advocacy seeks to achieve greater citizen participation in public policy and to promote and defend the rights of women, children, and people living in poverty. The organization’s efforts take on two approaches. The first is a natural offshoot of their community organizing and development work. ADIC encourages and supports community and neighborhood organizations’ involvement in policy advocacy. ADIC identifies men, women, and adolescents who are active within their communities to participate in an advocacy training process. In this way, community members are empowered to advocate on behalf of themselves and their communities to address their needs, both on local and national levels. ADIC coordinates a yearlong series of civic leadership meetings called Espacio de Concertación, which literally translates into Agreement Space or Space to Come Together/Join Forces. These sessions, held one or two times a month, bring together leaders of the communities in and around Matagalpa to create strategies and action plans and to articulate the corresponding activities involved in those plans. It is part of the process to ensure that communities have the basic tools for their own development and can hold government accountable to respond to their needs.
ADIC places an emphasis on coordination and cooperation to be effective in advocating for policy change. As an organization, ADIC participates in local, national, and international campaigns. These campaigns usually have to do with women’s or environmental issues, such as domestic violence, abortion, and water and land rights. There are four internationally recognized days around which ADIC plans a month’s worth of activities to promote awareness in the city and rural communities. These days are March 8th, International Women’s Day; May 28th, the Day of Action for Women’s Health; September 28th, the Day for the Decriminalization of Abortion in Latin American and the Caribbean; and November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. In addition, there are other days for which ADIC plans activities on a smaller scale, such as World Food Day.
ADIC takes part in several advocacy coalitions, including the Matagalpan Women’s Network, the Network of Women from the North, the Executive Commission on Women and Children, the Network of Women Against Violence, and the Commission of Organizations for Water Rights, among others. ADIC’s staff members are designated as representatives and participate regularly in the planning and facilitation of the groups’ events and activities.
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