Focus: Environment

Silk Caye final



West Africa

Creative Facilitation & Collaboration, Cameroon

33 staff from 19 organizations in Cameroon focusing on conservation, gender equality and youth development, including Nature Care Cameroon, Pan-African Organization for Research and Protection of Violence on Women and Children, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, convened for their second year of training in Creative Facilitation and Collaboration. These organizations are grantees of CAI partner, New England Biolabs Foundation.

Cameroon is challenged by a host of environmental issues - from deforestation, poaching, desertification, poor sanitation and water services to a lack of government support. In this intensive course, our partners learned to master the primary elements of facilitating and designing participatory workshops.

• Participating organizations reported that 1,238 individuals have been impacted by the new approaches and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
• On average, there was a 43% increase in self-reported creative facilitation skills, confidence and understanding.
• 80% of the organizations have replicated the Creative Facilitation training with their entire staff, and some have included volunteers and other ally organizations.

Observed Outcomes
• Youth are more interested and motivated to take charge of their future 
• Fuller engagement of policy leaders in local government
• Breakthrough in sex education to discuss contraception and other family planning topics
• Improved flow of information and productivity among staff 
• Improved communication with animals and volunteers
• More long-term thinking with staff and community
• Increased confidence and capability to work with groups

Project Spotlight: CAMGEW

Before training with CAI, CAMGEW attempted to initiate a top-down forest management plan with their stakeholders, sowing mistrust and hostility, resulting in little participation or buy-in. After the training, they shifted their approach to gathering community needs, concerns and input about proposed initiatives. In their meetings, they are now incorporating traditional song and dance, dialogue-based practices and community appreciation exercises. As a result, they have succeeded in co-drafting a new forest management plan with the community, and have seen improved levels of attendance, trust, communication, motivation and participation.

“The training touched most issues related to my work as a community facilitator. The tools used were so practical and amazing...the training presents and makes use of simple and practical tools that can drive community members to bring about lasting change in society.” - Litika Collins Yenika, Nature Care Cameroon


Creative Facilitation and Collaboration, Ghana

24 staff from 13 NEBF grantee organizations based in Ghana working in conservation, gender equality and youth development convened for the second year for training in Creative Facilitation and Collaboration. Their hands-on exploration of art codes produced a strong visual message addressing improper waste disposal. They presented the devastating effect of bush fires applying the medium of theater. An original song was composed to educate children about good hygienic habits.

Action items to bring back to their communities included creating awareness of pressing issues through community meetings, radio dramas, working with local officials, cultural initiatives, and tapping into ancestral practices and indigenous knowledge.

Project Spotlight: PAORP

PAORP in Ghana used theater and a World Café dialogue process with 80 parents, teachers and students to discuss taboo issues of early childhood marriage, how to reduce absenteeism and increase retention of girls in schools. 100% of the parents made public commitments to keep their girls in school and become more actively involved in their education.

100% of participants stated they were better able to meet their objectives at work and 100% stated they are better able to design and facilitate creative activities in their work. Combined, these programs benefit an estimated 1.4 million individuals throughout West Africa through more effective outreach and engagement.

“It was my first time trying such an activity - and yes, it was so fascinating. It appeared impossible to make anything out of the recycled materials we were given at first, but the group worked together and came up with the award winning “Ecofriendly Mobile Home.” - Abigail Frimpong, Conservation Alliance

“The training shapes your creativity and builds one's facilitation skills using simple and innovative tools that guarantee change. The methodology was new, very impactful and inspiring.” - Daniel Obloni Kweitsu, A Rocha Ghana


Central America

Tapping Into Indigenous Wisdom

Indigenous knowledge is the unique, local knowledge held by a culture and often passed through generations by oral and ritual traditions. This rich heritage reflects complex relationships and stewardship strategies with local ecosystems and is one of the greatest resources a community can tap into. The very oral and rural nature of traditional knowledge means it has usually not been captured and stored in a systematic way. Today, there is a grave risk that much of this wisdom is being lost and, along with it, valuable information about how to live in ecological harmony and balance.

In collaboration with our partners in the field, CAI works to facilitate a greater understanding and respect for the role of indigenous wisdom in conservation with NGO staff, educators, students and decision makers through teaching and learning approaches that incorporate locally relevant knowledge and skills.

CAI is collaborating with Ecologic to strengthen the leadership of educators in the rural indigenous Totonicapán región of Guatemala, integrate creative methodologies in the classroom and develop a more holistic education system. 50 leaders and educators from 2 organizations and 18 schools are exploring ways to honor indigenous wisdom and develop inspiring initiatives using traditional ceremony, dance, songs, theater and telenovelas to address domestic violence, reproductive health, and environmental preservation. Participants gain stronger cross-country alliances and valuable tools to promote community conservation with youth and children across the Totonicapán region. Throughout 2017, participants will receive coaching support from CAI staff as they design and replicate what they learned with their teams and students. 

“It was a very active and constructive training to be able to analyze problems and seek solutions. I learned new creative techniques to put them into practice in my classrooms.” - Cleily Nineth Morales García EORM Teacher Tecún Umán, Canton Chiyax, Totonicapán


NEBF Cohort Creative Collaboration Training

In 2016, CAI provided three follow up skill building clinics for the New England Biolab Foundation cohort of 15 conservation grantee organizations that participated in the Creative Leadership Certificate program to improve collaboration, communication and problem solving and strengthen the ability to design projects and community workshops. 100% of the total 55 participants stated that they will be better able to achieve desired results in their work to advance conservation in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.

Participating Organizations: FUNDAECO, CONIC, CODISRA, Aprosarstun, FUNDENOR, Cultural Survival, Oxlajuj Ajpop, Asociación Mangle, Fundahmer, Pacific Paso, El Povenir, Amojo, Flora and Fauna International, Entre Volcanes and JPIC.

“This clinic is the high point of my learning, because I had never thought about communication from this perspective. The work made it very clear that instead of criticizing, we must work together.” - Miguel Zepeda, FUNDAHMER

“This learning is significant and practical and has given me new tools to facilitate the processes of change and the methodological capacity to develop facilitation.” - Lester González Mairena The Future


Creative Engagement for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Nicaragua

Improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices protect against diarrhea and other diseases and improve nutrition in communities. Since 1995, water and sanitation organizations in Nicaragua have been building better WASH facilities and providing some educational outreach. However, they face considerable challenges in engaging constituents and encouraging sustainable improved WASH practices in communities. Creative Action Initiative and the Water and Sanitation Network of Nicaragua (RASNIC) are working together to achieve more effective and sustainable behavior shifts, bringing the the desired improved health impacts of WASH programming.

This project is currently underway and is working to reach three primary goals:

1. Providing 20-30 RASNIC organization field staff with a comprehensive handbook of creative tools and tactics to enhance communication, collaboration and outreach with each other and stakeholders
2. Enabling staff to apply innovative and artistic tools to analyze root causes of water, sanitation and hygiene issues and develop approaches to shift negative behaviors
3. Increasing passion for the work to more effectively connect with stakeholders.

Project Activities:

  • Creative Capacity Building of RASNIC implementing organizations
  • Application of Creative Leadership and Collaboration with five RASNIC member organizations and three Community Management Structures (CAPS). CAPS manage water and sanitation infrastructure in the community, and are often the first stop for anyone working to improve water supply, sanitation and hygiene practices in rural areas of Nicaragua.

TIDE Fisher Forum.350

Gulf of Honduras Creative Conservation Project

Strong local leadership and social cohesion are critical success factors for conservation outcomes.

We've embarked on a multi-year initiative to accelerate critical conservation efforts in the Gulf of Honduras. These marine and coastal ecosystems of Belize and Guatemala support some of the greatest biodiversity on Earth and provide livelihoods for thousands. Vast areas of coral reefs and mangroves have been lost and face continued threats from oil drilling, commercial fishing, tourism and climate change.

The Creative Conservation program supports the management and protection of sixteen ecosystems across Belize and Guatemala by expanding the leadership and engagement capacity of a cohort of six leading conservation organizations. Initiatives include Hicatee, Manatee and Yellow-Headed Parrot awareness, fire management, no-take zone education, fisher collaboration, littering, invasive species control, and coral reef and mangrove protection.

In the Fall of 2016, we completed Phase III of the program - deepening creative strategies and providing support through coaching, facilitation, skill building clinics, and field artist reinforcement for community projects.

This project has culminated in a Creative Conservation open source curriculum to enable conservation organizations to replicate the work.

Creative Conservation Curriculum

VIDEO: Creative Conservation

Project Spotlight: TIDE

TIDE works in the heart of the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor with the primary goal of establishing sustainable resource management of the Port Honduras Marine Reserve and local forests. CAI helped to successfully launch multiple community conservation initiatives, including Hicatee and Yellow-Headed Parrot awareness, fire management, no-take zone education, the Greening TIDE Challenge, a national fisher forum and training teachers in a creative environmental education curriculum.

“Getting fishers to work together has always been one of the toughest challenges...After seeing how useful data could be, and how it depended upon accurate catch reporting, most agreed to increase their commitment to record catches accurately and honestly. The participatory techniques we learned kept fishers engaged in the experience.” - James Foley, TIDE Science Director