Local Development Catalyst Network
It all started with a bicycle ride into the bush of central Mozambique! Having spent 18 months volunteering in a Child Aid Program, Zachary Lager (founder and director of LDCN) was left with a deeply unsettling feeling. Despite all the good intentions of the public and private sectors as well as society as a whole, nothing was actually changing in terms of fostering meaningful development and improving quality of life for rural Mozambicans. There seemed to be a strong disconnect between rural African needs and the mainstream development response to those needs. Furthermore, resources and knowledge were not reaching the people that needed them the most; local knowledge and skills was being eroded away or worse lost entirely; rural communities were becoming dependent on development aid; and environmental sustainability was an afterthought of most development programs.
As a result of these realizations, Zachary jumped on his bicycle in the Spring of 2011 and rode into the bush of central Mozambique seeking answers to impossible questions. Eventually, Zachary met the community leaders of a village named Nguineia (Nhamatanda District, Sofala Province). The village leaders and village elders gave Zachary a small piece of land and allowed him to build his own mud-hut and start a small farm. Since this fateful bike ride, Zachary has built a deep bond with the community and community members and has worked together with the community on a number of projects including building a primary school, manually drilling boreholes as part of an access to water program and now developing a community innovation center and demonstration fields.
LDCN’s mission is to work together and collaborate with individuals and communities around the world to find locally relevant, economically viable and ecologically sustainable innovations to the diversity of needs and challenges we face as a planet.
At the heart of LDCN is our community development work in Nguineia, Mozmbique. Since 2011 we have worked with the community on a number of meaningful local projects. Currently, we are developing a Community Innovation Center that demonstrates meaningful opportunities in the Food-Water-Energy nexus. More specifically we have developed a 1000 square meter demonstration garden (food), irrigated using a solar panel pump system (energy) that is attached to a manually drilled borehole and elevated (water). We are currently generating data and quantifying production on the garden as we explore different expansion strategies with community memebers.
Our Values & Approach
LDCN’s values and approach are based on designing, developing and implementing projects based on three main considerations. Specifically, we base our projects on the pillars that they are locally relevant to the community, that they promote ecologically sustainability and, finally, that they are economically viable. Although these three characteristics are not necessarily sufficient in ensuring long term sustainable, they do help to provide a LDCN with a guiding direction and structure to our approach. Furthermore, these three considerations have also led us to designing and developing our Community Innovation Center and Demonstration Garden.
LDCN recognizes that as a single grassroots community development organization, our potential to contribute to change at a global scale is relatively limited. As we have developed our project in Nguineia, we have also worked to develop a Theory of Change that moves beyond rural Mozambique and can be amplified within a collaborative global network of projects around the world. As we approach our 10 year anniversary, LDCN is positioned to serve as a unique bridging organization that can provide a breadth and depth of connections in a larger ecosystem for change. In doing so, LDCN hopes to contribute to ripples of change throughout the world and help heal the distance between people.