Building Community Capacity During a Crisis The Response of NGOs, Local Churches, and CBOs to COVID-19 in El Salvador

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James G. Huff Jr.
Ronald Todd Bueno


In the middle of a compounding health and hunger crisis in El Salvador, church and community leaders have catalyzed their relationships of trust and previous experience in community development to care for the most vulnerable families in their communities. The following paper discusses how staff from a Salvadoran, faith-based, NGO have responded to and worked with leaders from local churches and community-based organizations (CBOs) across El Salvador to manage the complicated and dynamic conditions generated by COVID-19. The paper draws on monitoring data, including interviews with church and community leaders, stakeholder meetings, and staff field visits, to describe the exercise of community capacity by local leaders. The discussion uses Robert Chaskin's operational model of community capacity to identify how local leaders build on and generate new capacities in the midst of a protracted crisis. There is emerging evidence that the relief and recovery efforts directed by church and community organizations have served to strengthen community capacity in a number of critical areas. The paper closes by describing how NGOs and other third-party organizations can direct programs to strengthen community capacity in the short-term in order to support church and community leaders’ efforts for long-term holistic change.

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How to Cite
Huff, J., & Bueno, R. (2021). Building Community Capacity During a Crisis. Christian Relief, Development, and Advocacy: The Journal of the Accord Network, 2(2), 65-74. Retrieved from
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