Success & Multiplication

By CJ Runyon, President/CEO Walu International


When working to resolve an issue, it is better to focus the first steps in an area that has the highest chance for success.


In CDD, multiplication is a goal. By focusing on an area that is most likely to succeed you not only help more people in a shorter amount of time, you enable them to assist in future projects.


In Santa Cruz County homelessness is an issue. When the CZU fire hit, over 900 residents lost their home amidst a housing crisis


If fire victims are neglected in their rebuild, the community of Santa Cruz County runs the risk of fire survivors becoming depressed or too stressed to focus on work. If their work suffers, they could lose their job. If they lose their job, they’ve lost their ability to pay for rent, transportation, food and amenities. What was once a solvable problem is now more complex.


By investing in a timely rebuild, progress will be made in easing the housing crisis. Homes will be rebuilt, homeowners will move back onto their land and more rentals will be back on the market.


Once homes are rebuilt, more focus can be given to the homeless crisis in Santa Cruz County. Using the CDD model, there will be an investment in areas that are more prone for success. People who are willing to take ownership of the process to receive resources that will equip and empower them to achieve their long-term housing goals have a higher chance of success than those who won’t participate. Those who have had success can offer insight in how to help those who are not ready to take ownership and help identify solutions to assist them in getting there.


By beginning with the area with the highest probability for success, more people will be equipped for long-term success.


The process of choosing where to focus isn’t easy. I was tested in Africa and frankly would have failed had I not been reminded of the importance in assessing the probability for success.


On a scouting trip, a few people and I were assessing which area to begin a sanitation/hygiene & well pump repair project in Malawi, Africa. This type of project was needed because many NGOs installed hand pump wells, but never provided the necessary training for upkeep and repairs so all of the wells they had built were useless and people went back to unhealthy sources to get their water.


The assessment for probability of success in a community involves an evaluation of the population that can be trained. It also has to be a community that has easier access to local resources. Lastly and most importantly, the community must have a desire for ownership. They have to identify the need. An outsider telling them what they think is the need will not be effective. The community must be able to identify their own needs in order for ownership to begin.


We visited many communities. It was obvious which one was the best to start with, but the locals I was with had one last village for me to see. As we drove to the village, the distance from local resources was growing. The roads became worse. When we got there, housing was scarce and scattered. The only thing that was similar to the other villages was the greeting I received from the children, bright eyes and big smiles.


This was the most desolate village I had been to during the assessment. As we assessed the area more, it was apparent they didn’t have what was needed to be the first recipients of the training nor the capability to multiply the training.


When we got in the car, I turned to my assistant and said, “I want to start here”. He looked at me compassionately knowing the scene got to me and reminded me that if we wanted to help people, we had to start with an area more likely to succeed in equipping other communities. He ended with, “It’s your call”.


It was my call and I made it. I chose the village that met the criteria for success. It had access to local resources, a desire for ownership of the project and was committed to training the village next to them to fix and maintain their hand pump wells. More people in the long run would be helped this way.


I still see the children’s faces in the last village. They are one of the reasons I am passionate about the CDD model.


There is a lack of forethought when NGOs go into a community and do the job rather than invest in communities by equipping and giving them ownership of the project. Had the NGO that installed the wells used the CDD model, the villages I was visiting would have already known how to maintain and repair their wells and there would have been no need for me to be there.


A successful project begins with the evaluation of the probability for success. Success lies in ownership, equipping, empowering, and the ability to multiply what was learned.

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