Learning Democracy in El Salvador 

Project duration: 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2010

On 28 May 2008, ADEMUZA began to publish the “Learning democracy – citizens’ participation in El Salvador” project financed by the North-South Bridges Foundation, and in the next step to select the future “Líderes Comunales” (local leaders) for participation in the project.

The work began in the “La Joya”, “El Zapote” and “El Chayal” cantons. The project was introduced through visits by ADEMUZA in the cantons. Moreover, an introduction was given to the background of the project, the founding history, the financing by KATE and the North-South Bridges Foundation and the planned course, aims and desired effects of the project for the communities. Potential “Líderes” were identified through personal talks with families in rural areas and at meetings. Based on thee information collected, those persons seen to be suitable were subsequently addressed directly and interviews carried out with them.

The participating communities and selected persons were again and more exactly informed of the project content and the materials available. An initial group of 28 persons was trained in 2008 and on 28 October “passed” in an official ceremony. Moreover, a group of 15 youths between 15 and 18 years was trained to accompany the project as “environmental youths” and to give support to the project logistics and documentation. But the main aim is to give these youths access to the seminars and to train them as “local democracy- and environmental disseminators of the future”. The seminars are held on Sunday from 8am to 12 noon in the teacher’s house, a large and pleasant place.

Visits in the communities take place during the week, through which the themes dealt with are made accessible to a wider public. Strengths, weaknesses, possibilities and necessities in the community are identified and project ideas developed together with the inhabitants. During these talks, further persons are also motivated to participate directly in the project.
In September 2008, the participants in the first group were asked to each name five persons whom they considered suitable to be disseminators within the project work in their community. These candidates form the basis for the selection of participants in the second round of training.

One effect of the project is seen in improved management (gestión) in the execution of local projects. The education led to increased self-organisation among the local basis organisations. As shown, the project met exactly the need of the rural communities and already shows its dissemination effect.