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Center for Sustainable Development:
November Newsletter: 2010 Survey of 88 CSDi Partner Projects

Upcoming Online Courses:
Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change: January 2011
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This Month’s News
CSDi is pleased to welcome Matt Cordell to our leadership team.
Matt has joined the Center as Director of Communications.

Matt Cordell grew up in North Carolina and graduated from Harvard with a degree in Social Studies. Most recently, Matt worked for the United Nations Foundation as the Publications Director and the editor of UN Dispatch, the Foundation's flagship online publication.

Matt previously worked for U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd as his speechwriter and former U.S. Senator Joseph Biden as a legislative aide. He has written and edited four editions of the Let's Go travel series and seven editions of the Fodor's travel series. And, he has contributed articles to The Washington Post, the Bangkok Post, The Patriot-Ledger, and Imagine Magazine.
Featured Partner Project of the Month: YEMEN. The initial goal: 500 families will enjoy improved health needed for increasing educational & income-generating activities through a water project in the Yemeni desert. Project Manager Omondi Aloo wrote today about successful funding and: “The first phase of the project has been implemented: a water bore hole of 130M has been successfully sunk. The second phase will involve

construction of the reservoir tank.”

His project addresses food security too: “I am happy to inform you that our Food Security project is progressing well. 140 families are actively participating and the kitchen gardens are doing very well.” Projects like this will lead Yemenis toward peace and prosperity. Donate to This Project.

Fan us on FacebookCSDi Development Community.

2010 Survey of 88 CSDi Partner Projects

2010 has been a remarkable year for me. A whole new dimension has entered my professional life with the addition of our online courses. Development professionals from 81 countries and 150 organizations have developed projects in our courses in 2010.

What struck me immediately were the remarkable similarities in the challenges that communities face worldwide: Poverty, water, hunger, health—and adapting to a changing world.

Early on, we saw that almost 50% of student projects related to food or water—and that over 40% of the projects’ challenges showed signs of being linked to climate change. But, I wanted to see this more accurately spelled out.

We decided to analyze the best of the 2010 student projects to get a sense of the hierarchy of the challenges. We faced a number of decision-making hurdles in making this list.

First, most of the challenges are not stand-alone challenges—they are linked to others (e.g. health and hygiene)—so how does one separate them? Secondly, each of the headings in the chart below represent a wide variety of different kinds of project activities. How do we choose which to highlight?

We selected 88 of what we felt were the best projects. These projects are in 42 different countries and impact 70,000 community members. Most projects are made up of multiple activities (such as filtering water and teaching hand washing and providing nutrition education); these 88 projects incorporate 100 different kinds of activities (interventions) that students have researched prior to including them into their solution strategy. You can see a complete list of their project activities here.

I would like to commend our 2010 course participants for the conscientious job that they are doing empowering community members to rise above their challenges sustainably. Thank you!

The following examples illustrate why it’s hard to separately categorize these project activities that are frequently paired with each other:

1. Income Generation paired with: agriculture, health, nutrition, youth programs, education, literacy, climate change.
2. Water paired with: income generation, agriculture, health, nutrition, organization, adaptation, sanitation, conservation/restoration.
3. Agriculture paired with: income generation, water, food security and nutrition, organization, education, training, climate, conservation/restoration.
4. Adaptation paired with: livelihood, water, agriculture, health, food security, sanitation, conservation, migration.

A special note on adaptation to climate change. Even though only 6% of project activities are listed as adaptation activities—over 40% of the challenges faced by these community projects show links to climate change:

1. unpredictable or extreme weather impacts agriculture and income generation
2. a shortage of water reduces crop production and limits the water families need for health and hygiene
3. an overabundance of water inundates farm fields and contaminates drinking water

Here are activity categories that students discovered during needs assessments with their communities. In other words, these are the challenges that communities identified and prioritized—and that students developed into projects.

These overarching community challenges are represented in 88 Projects from 42 countries

Activity Theme

Percentage of activities that fall under this category

Income Generation






Health & Hygiene


Family Food Security, Nutrition, Family Gardens


Community Organization


Adaptation to Climate Change








Youth Programs


Energy Alternatives


Literacy - Adult


Organizational Strengthening


People with Disabilities


Transportation Alternatives


Drug Abuse


Human Rights


Migration/Family Disintegration




My development friends who are in the human/social side of development—human rights, sexual and reproductive health, trafficking—panic when they see this list.

Terribly important things are at the bottom; we would like to see them to rise much higher. I would love to hear from you why you feel they aren’t ‘at the top’ and what the Center could do to get them there. Please write me with your thoughts through Online.Learning@csd-i.org, or post them at the Development Community, at our Facebook Page, or on the Center’s Blog.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Tim Magee 

Center for Sustainable Development
724 Via Santo Tomas
Claremont, CA  91711

Be sure to visit CSDi’s Development Community and join colleagues in sharing resources & collaborating online: http://developmentcommunity.csd-i.org/

The Center for Sustainable Development specializes in providing sound, evidence-based information, tools and training for humanitarian development professionals worldwide. CSDi is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.