In the 2010 issue of the Grassroots Development journal, we highlight a variety of grassroots responses to pressing issues faced in Latin American and Caribbean communities, most notably the immediate response of IAF grantee partners to address the devastating earthquake damage in Haiti.
Letters from our Readers
“Haiti: The Grassroots Response”
Post-earthquake, the IAF looked to its Haitian grantee partners for guidance on what was needed in their communities and provided emergency grant supplements to provide the basics and help the organized poor feel in control again. This article describes how grassroots organizations, including first responders and women’s groups, contributed to the initial recovery effort.
“Chet Thomas: In Honduras for the Long Haul”
Here we profile Chet Thomas, a U.S. expatriate and founder of Proyecto Aldea Global whose varied contributions of development projects in Honduras demonstrate the key principle of the grassroots approach—that true development begins at the bottom and takes time, with one-on-one encounters with individual human beings.
“La Selva’s Cafetaleros and the Big Business of Coffee”
Despite two uncontrollable variables—the weather and the market—and other major struggles over the last 30 years, Unión de Ejidos de la Selva’s smallholder coffee producers have realized their dream of selling their organic coffee directly to consumers. With IAF funding, members were able to grow more and better coffee by applying practices consistent with the responsible use of natural resources.
“The Zapatista Challenge and the Grassroots”
In the years preceding the uprising of displaced Zapatista Mexicans, the Chiapas region was a priority for the IAF due to its extreme poverty and economic potential of organic coffee cooperatives. This article looks at how the political and economic context changed the community’s need to support other enterprises through IAF funding of development projects, including weaving and organic farming.
“Challenging Assumptions: Psychiatric Disabilities and Grassroots Development”
Though examples of grants for people with psychiatric or psychosocial disabilities are rare, this article documents the work of IAF grantee partners Fundación Granja Taller de Asistencia Colombiana and Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos, which exemplify the potential of grassroots initiatives on behalf of this excluded population.
“Disaster and Resolve on Lake Ilopango”
This article chronicles the setbacks, recovery, enterprise and expansion of IAF-funded fish farming cooperatives on Lake Ilopango. Their story underlines the complex challenges to grassroots development and the importance of allowing grassroots groups to discover how to overcome them.
“Cisterns, Sanitation and Progress in Pesqueria”
In an effort to mitigate drought, improve sanitation and diversity income in one of the poorest areas of the Brazilian Northeast, IAF grantee partner Centro Diocesano de Apoio ao Pequeno Produtor has worked to change resident behavior through an interactive, multimedia curriculum to transmit its critical message of resource management and civic participation.
“IAF Fellowships: Funding Scholarship at the Grassroots”
This article outlines the IAF’s history of funding fellowships and providing support for academic research into grassroots trends and topics, a commitment that dates back almost as far as its first grant. The IAF is the only institution that specifically funds research targeting grassroots development in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Mobilizing the Deaf Community in Uruguay”
An IAF Fellow spent a year in Uruguay studying why deaf Uruguayans are significantly more mobilized and numerous than other groups of people with disabilities. In this article, we review the findings that point to why this community is more informed and has better communication as well as a greater awareness of the surrounding world.
“A Network of Hope”
For many children in Salvador, Brazil, daily life involves knocking on neighbors’ doors looking for water with which to drink, cook a meal and occasionally bathe. This article from an IAF Fellow features Pastoral da Criança, an ecumenical, faith-based program that works with desperately poor Brazilians to improve the effectiveness of health services for mothers and children.
Grantees in the News
As one of several events to celebrate its 40th anniversary, the IAF sponsored The Afrolatin@ Experience: An Exploration of Identity in the Americas featuring themes of visibility and identity of Black Latinos. This recap describes the series of public programs at venues throughout New York City in which young activists from Honduras, Colombia and the United States shared their perspectives and articulated the need for social justice.
Book Review Essay: “Conservation and Development in the Tropical Forests”
- “Linking Conservation and Poverty Reduction: Landscapes, People and Power”
- “At Loggerheads? Agricultural Expansion, Poverty Reduction, and Environment in Tropical Forests”
- “Civil Society and Social Movements: Building Sustainable Democracies in Latin America”
- “Inter-American Development Bank: Washington, D.C., 2008”
- “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide”
- “Rethinking Corporate Social Engagement: Lessons from Latin America”
In Memoriam: Rex Nettleford
The IAF remembers Rex Nettleford, a Jamaican cultural authority and educator who advised the IAF during the 1970s and 1980s and significantly influenced the organization’s early grantmaking with his simple recommendation to invest in three areas: the role of women in development, the enrichment of cultural identity and the ideas that help the poor toward economic security.