Community-Led Development

In the Community-Led Development movement, communities are at the helm of overcoming challenges such as hunger, poverty and disaster. It focuses on inclusive, systemic change that helps them become more resilient and prosperous.

CWS has been a member of the CLD movement since 2015. We have contributed to understanding how CLD can help achieve top development priorities: increasing citizen engagement, building self-reliance, promoting gender equality and improving sustainability and resilience.

The CLD model is at the center of all CWS development and disaster preparedness programs. We make long-term investments in the most vulnerable and under-served communities so that they can fulfil their own goals. We strive to be accountable to the vision and priorities that the communities we work with. As programs and responses unfold, we put the people most affected by our work in the lead. Our teams around the world work hard to ensure diverse representation in planning and decision-making, mobilize the community’s own resources, and use feedback to improve programs and outcomes.


The Movement for Community-Led Development


Community-Led Sanitation in Vietnam

An estimated six million people in Vietnam still use streams or fields as bathrooms. To help change this dangerous habit, we work with community leaders to help them understand the health benefits of sanitary latrines and how to build and maintain them. Then these local leaders share what they have learned with their friends and neighbors to motivate them to invest in sanitary latrines, too.

Entire communities have built safe latrines and are proud to be certified as Open Defecation Free by their local governments. Thousands of people access latrines through this program each year. Learn more in our 2019 Annual Report.


Cash for Work in Kenya

Changing climates have wreaked havoc on rural parts of Kenya in recent years, bringing both devastating droughts and horrific flooding. Our team responds with immediate aid, and then we work with communities to map out long-term recovery strategies that also build resilience. We often use a “cash for work” approach.

We start with community conversations about what infrastructure improvements like roads or water systems would lessen the impact of future disasters. Then we provide the needed resources and equipment and help organize community teams to tackle these projects. Each participant is paid for their work, which enables them to buy the food or supplies they need to ease the burden of the most recent disaster. Learn more about this win-win on the CWS Blog.


"Nothing About Us Without Us" in Latin America

Roughly 2 million children in Latin America and the Caribbean have an incarcerated parent. These children have unique vulnerabilities, so CWS and our partners across the region are hard at work raising awareness about their specific needs. “Nothing about us without us” is a guiding principle of our work.

We ensure that the voices we are raising are those of the children themselves, as well as their family members and caregivers. Their voices are the ones that need to be heard—we’re there to help them reach the microphone. Read reflections from our Program Officer on the CWS Blog.