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World Neighbors Regional Director On Keeping Development Local

The Oklahoma City-based NGO World Neighbors works on a variety of development projects across the world. Lionel Vigil, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, says the NGO is focused on four components in his region: Sustainable agriculture, clean water, sanitation and savings and credit groups.

World Neighbors works with locals in Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti and Peru. Vigil says agricultural projects focus on family farmers, and tend to use local resources to help farmer improve yields. That means an emphasis on organic farming to produce composts instead of chemical fertilizers. They also work on crop diversification.

In the Andes, Vigil says farmers have asked World Neighbors to work on guinea pig farm projects. Guinea pigs are a traditional food source in the Andes, and as more villagers move to the cities, the demand for guinea pig meat has grown.

“I wouldn’t say that guinea pig farming will make a farmer get out of poverty but it will be it will be part of this farming component,” Vigil said.

World Neighbors is working on improved latrine projects for families that are more sanitary and less smelly than traditional latrines.

The NGO also works with biosand water filters that help provide families with clean drinking water.

“The household [can] have clean water in their homes so they don’t have to use any kind of chlorine. They don’t have to boil water, because it’s expensive,” Vigil said. “It’s actually a very adaptive technique or equipment that … can last for 20, 30 years in their homes.”

Through credit and savings groups, participants contribute to a pool of resources and then lend to each other or invest in communities.

“We contribute once with seed capital which could be $100 and they can grow. And everybody can benefit and they kind of start and last for many years,” Vigil said