Facilitators’ role in Managua

Facilitator Claudia Alonso (second from the right) trains brigadistas for household visits.

Facilitators acted as links between the research team and the communities, and were the ones who bore the weight of the SEPA process until the communities began generating their own leadership and the dynamic of autonomous prevention took hold.

In this case, the group of facilitators was made up of 16 women and one man, most of whom worked in the pilot study (2004-2007) as brigadistas or neighbourhood leaders. These individuals, together with the CIET research team, developed the communications and relationships framework for the Camino Verde trial.

The facilitators joined the trial in May 2011 to coordinate the feedback of the baseline evidence to households and focus groups about the costs of dengue. They then oversaw the formation and training of the SEPA brigades, assured that they had the proper equipment and coordinated their first house-to-house visits. They also promoted the decentralisation of the brigades’ work, transferring accounting and decision-making responsibilities to the communities, and guided the territorial expansion of each brigade’s work and the process of peer-to-peer monitoring between neighbourhoods.

“Coming from the outside” to facilitate or monitor communications processes in neighbourhoods not their own proved to be a challenge for the facilitators and was the source of much discussion during the implementation of Camino Verde. They described it as a learning process that enriched their lives, their capacity to work with communities and their role in the intervention as a whole. During the peer-to-peer monitoring exercise they were asked what had been the most important change brought on by Camino Verde, and they talked about personal changes, changes in their relationships with the brigades, changes in relationships among the brigades and with households and neighbourhood leaders. They also talked about relationships between generations; and the progress they witnessed in mosquito control. Their testimonies offer important evidence for understanding the Camino Verde dynamic and its impact on the communities.

The results of the facilitators’ work could be seen in the growing autonomy of the volunteer brigades, in the increasing participation of community leaders in SEPA and in the facilitators’ withdrawal from the neighbourhoods that were ready to pursue the green path under their own impetus.