Family Councils, formerly called Citizen Power Councils, are community organisations created by the Nicaraguan government in 2007 to foster and deepen the participation of residents in decision-making that affects their communities. The purpose of this initiative is for citizens to participate in the formulation of proposals, to provide support and follow-ups for government programmes and services, and to guide and control government agencies.
The councils function in both urban and rural areas across the country and are open to voluntary participation from community members. Each council is organised by topic and programmes, such as promoting the rights of citizens, women’s rights, the rights of children and youth, the rights of the elderly, communication, public safety, health, education and the environment, among other things. Each neighbourhood or region has a general coordinator and topic coordinators, a structure that is reproduced in micro-territories (blocks or streets), depending on their own capacities.
The SEPA approach to communication used by CIET contributes to the dynamics of direct participation, reflection and learning that are the goals of the Family Councils, by favouring dialogue and looking for solutions based on evidence from the communities themselves. The Camino Verde SEPA brigades are not separate from the Family Council structure; they are born from community organisation and their work strengthens that organisation, mainly through the opportunities for direct contact brought on by household dialogue visits.