A US Registered non-profit dedicated to equipping and empowering community members to improve community ownership in daily affairs while preparing them for disaster recovery should a calamity strike. Federal Tax ID 38-3805595
Our solution: Walu believes in Community Based Development and uses the Participatory Method. We believe communities should be the decision makers to ensure the community is empowered and has ownership.
CZU Fire Victims Supported
People trained worldwide in Community Driven Development
Years equiping and empowering communities in community ownership
What We Do
Santa Cruz Mountains
In August 2020, a devastating fire caused by lightning destroyed 911 homes and took one life in the mountains of Santa Cruz County.
Because Walu's CEO, CJ Runyon, was a Director of Fire Cleanup in a hard-hit area of San Diego County after the 2003 firestorms, it was decided Walu would assist the community in fire recovery.
The first phase of fire recovery is cleanup. This is a vital phase for the mental well-being of fire victims/survivors and the protection of the environment from toxic ash-flow when rain arrives.
Unfortunately due to County and State regulations, the cleanup process was grossly delayed. Walu and other organizations collaborated to help minimize the effects of toxic debris flow by barricading toxic ash with foundation, straw, tarps and wattles. Because of these efforts and a La Nina year in December 2020, toxic ash runoff due to rain was minimized.
Special thanks to Resource Conservation District, Boulder Creek Community Church, Valley Churches United, Coast Riderz MC Santa Cruz, Home Depot Santa Cruz & Watsonville, Michelle Fluent at Keller Williams, Bailey Cotrona & Boulder Creek Cleanup Crew, SLV Post, Carmia Powell, Angela Hsu, Walu Board Members, Monica Capiello, Ed Thrift, SLV Support Group for Home Loss and the many Walu volunteers and monetary donors who assisted with fire relief efforts and are assisting in fire recovery.
Cuajachillo Dos, Nicaragua
Typically, nonprofits begin working where there is the greatest need. Walu does not do this. Our goal is to provide long-lasting results. In order to effectively reach our goal in a reasonable amount of time, we focus on the community with the highest chance for success.
Success is based on the: Size of a community, access to resources, a desire from the community to resolve their issues, and community leadership.
Once a community is trained, they can then train nearby communities and eventually reach those with the greatest need. By investing in communities, we avoid creating a dependency that does not allow communities to thrive on their own. Dependency also overlooks what is best for the community because outsiders are making the decisions versus community members who know their weather patterns, terrain, resources, and culture.
Cuajachillo Dos was the epitome of a community capable of being successful and investing in other communities. A strong community leadership team took the reins and not only were trained to build eco and standard latrines, they began identifying other issues like the lack of healthy water and organic produce.
Special thanks to Pat Barnosky for his stellar skills in CDD training, speaking Spanish, and latrine design/building/maintenance training.
Papua New Guinea
Where it all began.......
In 2009, Walu International was born after Zack Parker stepped on human feces during a surf trip in Lido, Papua New Guinea. Because the community did not have any latrines, the ocean was the toilet. The same ocean used by the 1,000-plus community to fish, play, and surf.
Zack learned one in six children in PNG died of diarrhea. He was struck by the high mortality rate from something that is so preventable.
His experience and newfound knowledge led him to begin Walu while getting his Master's Degree.
While forming Walu, Zack came across mentors who trained him in Community Based Development using the Participatory Method.
Years later, after time and training, the Lido community learned to build and maintain its first eco latrine!
Special thanks to Matt Inbusch and all of those who helped launch the project in PNG.
How Does It Work?
Community Driven Development (CDD) forms steady leadership and communication channels within the heart of each community. Training in CDD empowers communities to run autonomously to bridge the gap between government aid and people’s needs in both times of normalcy and in times of calamity.
Through Community Driven Development, Walu works with community leaders and members to gain a collective voice to:
Empower community members to address current needs.
Prepare them for future disasters where government intervention is lacking.
Equip communities to be stakeholders.
Walu works with a wide range of demographics. This ensures the community, as a whole, is represented. Organizations are encouraged to partner with one another when necessary to take ownership in initiatives involving daily community health and in times of crisis.
Walu is currently providing CDD training to fire victims in the Santa Cruz Mountains as well as groups, organizations, and communities who want to come together to improve current conditions as well as be trained and prepared to manage disaster recovery. Training is also available to agencies and nonprofits that want to learn how to more effectively work with and in their communities.
Training provides: insight into how Walu's CDD model differs from other approaches, identification of issues and the root causes, assessments on where and how to begin finding solutions, committee formation & training, guidance in forming community projects, assistance in establishing partnerships with local resources & municipalities, monitoring & evaluation tools, how to take care of self & avoid burnout, and more depending on the needs of the community.
Because Walu works directly with communities versus just providing theoretical training, the training can be designed around the culture and needs of the community, group, organization, nonprofit or agency.
Community Driven Development
“CDD is a development initiative that provides control of the development process, resources, and decision-making authority directly to groups in the community. The underlying assumption of CDD projects is that communities are the best judges of how their lives and livelihoods can be improved and, if provided with adequate resources and information, they can organize themselves to provide for their immediate needs.”
The focus has been on developing countries, but it and the participatory method have in fact been used in business models. It is time for this model to be used in our communities to build a collective voice.
Community members are the stakeholders and leaders
Community members identify their issues
Community members are the decision-makers
Community members are empowered to have a voice
Communities can get further as a collective voice than as individuals.
Why is CDD vital for our communities?
Communities know their people, culture, terrain, resources, politics, history, needs, and obstacles better than an outsider.
California is prone to disasters: Drought, Wildfires, Earthquakes, Windstorms, Flooding, Mudslides, etc. Our government does not have the means to take care of people the way they should be cared for.
Regardless of disasters, communities face obstacles in their daily lives that need resolving, but there is not a structure in place to equip and empower a community voice.
It has been shown worldwide that communities that regularly use CDD to resolve the day-to-day issues survive calamity (natural disasters, famine, war) because they were already in the practice of collectively coming together.
Meet The Team