Research and Learning: Students Reflect on CED in Bolivia

 This was an opportunity for SFU students to tell the stories about their research and work in Bolivia, and a chance for the public to engage in an open dialogue about the current situation of community economic development in this beautiful Andean country.

The event was held on March 20th, 2012 at SFU Harbour Centre with some 30 people in attendance. We want to thank all of the people who came to the event and participated in the discussion with comments and questions.


  • Isabel Bodrogi (MA Candidate International Studies), Vulnerability of women to the effects of climate change
  • Deborah Carvalho (MA Candidate Latin American Studies), Women’s Land Ownership Rights
  • Francisco Gallegos (MA Candidate Public Policy), Research: Food Security and Food Sovereignty
  • Gretchen Hernandez (PhD Candidate in Geography), Indigenous-led initiatives to improve economic, social and environmental well-being at the local level

Moderator:  Dr. Joanna Ashworth, Sr. Research Associate, Centre for Sustainable Community Development; Co-Director, Engaging Diaspora in Development; Associate Director, Community Economic Development in Bolivia

To see pictures of the event, please click here.


Celebrating Success

Graduations are always an opportunity for celebration and for reflection.

Amid much excitement, more than 20 participants in the Community Economic Development training program – indigenous leaders, community educators and other specialists working in local economic and social development initiatives – proudly received their certificates of completion from Simon Fraser University and our Bolivian partner AIPE  in March 2012.

Sharing food and music are hallmarks of a healthy community. Nobody suggests that what comes next will be the hard work of realizing the social and economic plans that were seeded in the program.

Speechmaking and ceremony was an important part of recognizing the work of the graduates, including the Mayor of Viacha and the indigenous leaders of the community as well as our project team.

– by Joanna Ashworth

Project featured in AUCC’s Uniworld Magazine

The Bolivia Community Economic Development project has been selected by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) as exemplary for its contributions to engaging marginalized populations in development.

The project was highlighted at a recent AUCC / CIDA workshop in Ottawa on November 24th, 2011. Gretchen Hernandez, project coordinator, spoke to a group of about 50 development professionals and academics about the unique curriculum and pedagogy.

“The CED program taught in Bolivia allows indigenous leaders co-create course content and to discuss real issues and ideas for their communities.”

An article about the project was published in the most recent issue of UniWorld, “Reaching Out to the Margins”:

Four SFU students go to Bolivia

Four SFU students spent May to August 2011 in Bolivia through the project:

Ana Molina, 4th year Geography major won a CARE SFU travel award, and a grant from the project to work at COMAI-Pachamama on CED planning in Viacha, Bolivia.

Deborah Carvalho, a Latin American Studies grad student won C.A.R.E SFU travel awards and Students for Development funding to work on research on indigenous women’s access to land through the organization CECASEM in La Paz.

Isabel Bodrogi, an International Studies Masters student, received Students for Development funding to explore issues of climate change and impacts on indigenous women with the organization ICO in the Santa Cruz region.

Francisco Gallegos, a graduate student in Public Policy received a grant from the project to work with IICCA in Tarija, Bolivia on research related to the implementation of Food Security policies in rural areas.

More information about the students and their work is available on the Summer 2011 page.

New ‘In Situ’ Training for Indigenous Leaders

Three new CED training programs launched in 2011, specifically designed for traditional indigenous leaders and municipal officials. The programs are running in Viacha, Oruro, and Ocuri. Each program has about 35 participants, and will run for six months.

These programs were requested by leaders in these communities, as they are currently undergoing processes of becoming autonomous municipalities and territories, and need to plan for sustainable economic development and contribute to municipal development plans.

Travelling to major cities for training is costly and time consuming, so for these programs, the CED instructors will go to the communities to train ‘in situ’.

Viacha leaders ask for training

February 2011:

Gretchen Hernandez, project coordinator, is invited to speak at a meeting of traditional Aymara leaders (Mallkus) in Viacha, Bolivia. Twenty leaders from the area participated in the latest La Paz CED training program.  At this meeting, leaders asked SFU to run training programs directly in their community, explaining that it is difficult and costly to travel the two hours to La Paz for the classes.

2010 Training Programs

Santa Cruz training participants

December 2010: 

Joanna Ashworth of SFU visits with participants of the Santa Cruz CED program –  women leaders from a national indigenous organization.




Participants of CED training in La Paz, with visitor from CIDA

September 2010:

A representative from CIDA’s Partnership Branch, Education Division visits the participants of the La Paz II CED Training program on Septemeber 21, 2010.  Participants welcomed Annie D’Anjou with a traditional communal meal (aktapi).

August 2010: 

Two new training programs launched!!  The Sucre I program participants include staff from Bolivian development organizations who work with communities in the Chuquisaca Region.  The La Paz II program participants include our first group of traditional indigenous leaders – Mallkus and Mamatallas from the Marka Viacha, Tiawanaku, and Jesus de Machaca.

March 2010:

A new CED training program was launched in Santa Cruz, Bolivia! The participants include local NGO staff and indigenous women’s leaders.