Community Driven Development

Bringing It Back To Communities

About Us


When faced with a crisis, communities often find themselves lacking a relationship with local resources, organizations and government agencies. Walu has a demonstrated method of building a community bridge between communities and the social programs and resources that are there to serve them.  

Mission Statement: Walu is 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 using Community Driven Development: Walu believes that community members have better insight into their needs than outside agencies and therefore should be stakeholders in building a government or agency relationship to fulfill the needs of the community.    

Walu believes in Bringing It Back To Communities and invites you to join us. Scroll down to learn more. 

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CZU Fire Victims Supported

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People trained worldwide in Community Driven Development

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Years equiping and empowering communities in community ownership

Areas of Focus

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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. 

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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 CDD Work?


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) 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 a community leadership team and community 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. 

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 Provides:

  • Insight into how Walu's CDD model differs from other approaches 

  • identification of issues and the root causes

  • Assessments to find solutions/corrective action 

  • Committee formation

  • Community project management

  • Communication: establishing partnerships with local resources, organizations & municipalities

  • Evaluation & Monitoring.


Why Community Driven Development?

Why is CDD vital for our communities, organizations, and government agencies?

Communities know their people, culture, terrain, resources, politics, history, needs, and obstacles better than an outsider. 


Globally, communities deal with crisis or disaster: Drought, Wildfires, Disease, Earthquakes, Windstorms, Flooding, Mudslides, Sanitation Obstacles, Economic Hardship, Crime etc. Through CDD training and by providing consulting or training for NGO's and Government Agencies the gap that is often felt by communities during a crisis will be minimized as all entities collaborate together for the good of the people impacted by disaster. 

Regardless of disasters, communities face obstacles in their daily lives that need resolving. Typically there is not a structure in place to equip and empower a community voice. CDD provides the structure to create partnerships with agencies to develop  and maintain a community voice.


Communities that regularly use CDD to resolve day-to-day issues survive calamity (natural disasters, famine, war) because they were already in the practice of collectively coming together.

Community Member Statement

After the CZU fire, many of us lost our homes, it has become very clear that we need a way for the community to create, in a structured way, communication with our government and local agencies about the needs from this catastrophic disaster. Walu was identified as an experienced resource to help achieve a process to alleviate this burden. Julie W - Fire Victim

Contact Us

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Meet The Team

CJ Runyon



Zack Parker



Christi Grab


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Brynna McComb



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