Communities Leading Development


Communities Leading Development (CLD) Project, implemented by Catholic Relief Services -CRS-, contributes to reversing the historical trend of exclusion of Indigenous Mayan communities, who are a majority in the Western Highlands of Guatemala by empowering them to identify and address their most pressing development needs, in a joint effort with partners from the public and private sectors.


The project works with women, Indigenous Peoples, youth, and people with disabilities in 203 communities in 30 municipalities of the departments of Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango, Quiché, San Marcos, and Totonicapán.


Historically, the largely Indigenous Mayan communities of the Western Highlands of Guatemala have been excluded from participating in the decision-making systems that shape their lives. Their voices have not been heard and their needs remain unmet. The CLD project seeks to leverage investments and strengthen the partnership of local and external stakeholders with innovative, sustainable, and scalable development projects that are driven by the community and for the community’s benefit.


With a community-based development approach, Indigenous Peoples, women, and youth participants in the project lead efforts to achieve their vision of well-being. Local governments and strategic allies are working together with CLD and contributing to meet the challenges borne by communities, manifested as development needs, by empowering community leadership, actively searching for markets and establishing alliances for resource mobilization to communities and municipalities.

The CLD Project promotes community initiatives, defined by inclusive planning, and supported through public-private partnerships that improve the quality of life in communities of the Western Highlands. The project has three specific objectives:

  • Citizens empowered through participation in the development of Community Development Plans.
  • Quality of life improved through the development and implementation of Community Development Plans.
  • Long-term sustainability of community development improved by leveraging local and external resources.

Project objectives are achieved through:

MARKET-DRIVEN STRATEGIES - Including the Azure model for community water systems and services, agricultural value chains, rural businesses, and youth entrepreneurship.

ALLIANCES AND RESOURCE MOBILIZATION - including community-led resource mobilization and partnerships, essential household and community assets, and shared value initiatives with the private sector.