Costa Rica Rural Community Empowerment Project

home about us project details get involved photo gallery useful links contact - phase 1 - phase 2 - phase 3 - location -
phase 1 (2004-2005): direct trade coffee production model

Phase I

During Phase I 2004-2005 Initiating a Community-University Research Alliance, the project created a community-university research alliance between the rural agricultural community of Santa Maria del Dota in the Los Santos Region of Costa Rica and VIU. Employing a participatory action research approach, this collaborative research alliance focuses on planning and policy development for rural agricultural communities in economic transition, and seeks to help fill the community development planning gap that exists in many rural communities around the world.

Phase I 2004-2005 of the project succeeded in setting up collaborative participation action research partnerships between VIU, the Los Santos communities (the Nubotropica Foundation of Los Santos, and the Sol Colibri Organic Farmers Association) and our Costa Rica research partners (Earth University, and The Rainforest Alliance of Costa Rica) The relationships withEarth University and the Rainforest Alliance are formalized: Earth University will provide integrated farming expertise in the Los Santos Region, while our institution will provide tourism development/management expertise for the communities with whom Earth University are working in northern Costa Rica. The Rainforest Alliance will provide support in the delivery of community workshops and educational conferences in the Los Santos Region on sustainable agriculture, tourism and forestry. We have also created a working relationship with Lily Edgerton, the Public Affairs Officer and Political Economic Assistant at the Canadian Embassy in San Jose. The embassy provides administrative and clerical support for the project with an emphasis on the creation of a 'Community Empowerment Handbook' that will have application in the embassy's other major countries of concern in Central America (Honduras and Nicaragua).

During Phase I, our first two teams of students (team #1 in spring/summer 2005, and team #2 in fall 2005) developed project policies for volunteer placements, student placements, student home-stays, and tourist home-stays. They also created a full risk management plan for operation of the project in Costa Rica, initiated agro-tourism farm inventories, and assisted faculty in running community education workshops.