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Socializing evidence for participatory action: Community-led peace and innovation initiative.

Connect the community to evidence & resources to implement ideas for peace and innovation with economic incentive and better health outcomes

Photo of Amy Robyn Krystosik
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Cali, Colombia experiences ~64/100,000 murders annually (top 20 most dangerous cities globally). Our goal is to engage with the community to design an intervention to promote peace, health, and profit in the community. We aim to partner with communities to help them identify and solve their development challenges in their own terms in a sustainable manner, based on the participatory search, lay interpretation and public discussion of local evidence. This process described by CIET is socializing evidence for participatory action (Fig 2). During the first 6 months, we will execute one-on-one interviews and focus group discussions with community members from diverse background to understand the underlying sources of violence and proposed solutions. Results will be organized around the Stanford Peace and Innovation Lab framework (Fig 5): by enabling collaboration, we create innovation, resulting in new value and mutual benefit, and peace. Next, we put these ideas into practice with the community. We found that communities with high-arboviral-burdens experience higher rates of violence (Figs 1 & 3) in the informal settlements of Aguablanca in Cali. Violence was cited as a barrier to receiving preventative services (Fig 2). Ideas to break the cycle of violence and poor health include initiatives like ‘treasure for trash’, ‘soap opera’s targeting beliefs and attitudes focusing on peace and health’, or ‘social entrepreneur incubator’ (Fig. 5). For the latter, next steps could include inviting diverse teams to submit ideas for peace or health-promoting social businesses; assisting applicants in preparing business plans to reach their goals; and connecting them with mentors in the community to refine and promote ideas. This includes workshops, computer and writing labs, and one-on-one mentorship. Top applicants will receive a monthly stipend and startup costs to launch their social business, and continued mentorship with the goal of reaching profitability, peace, and health.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Communicating with local leaders and community health workers, we will invite all community members from informal settlements and the community of Auguablanca, Cali, Colombia to a general meeting to introduce the SEPA process. Smaller focus groups will be formed (e.g. female-based & community health), and one-on-one interviews (gang) will be conducted with local leaders and community health workers. Gang leaders will be engaged; but, the reasons people join gangs often start in young childhood, in violent or at least neglectful home, school, and/or community environments thus female-focused solutions will be specifically encouraged. In the social entrepreneurship example, underemployment is high and opportunities low in this community. This program would provide a profitable way for entrepreneurs to work together to create health and peace for profit. These entrepreneurs are part of the informal settlements which are the results of the complex socio-political climate in Colombia.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Our idea is unique on three fronts: we will (1) use evidence-based rather than expert-based approach, (2) use the knowledge of the community from diverse backgrounds (i.e., race, neighborhood, gangs, socio-economic status), service users and providers, and those who are disenfranchised, rather than a one-way knowledge transfer from authoritative sources, and (3) partner with local organizations in Colombia and Stanford University to use all existing expertise in this field and learn from previous mistakes. The socializing process will generate new knowledge and builds upon it to propel action and move onto new cycles of research. The aim will be to raise collective awareness and interest around the issues of violence, health, and prosperity, and contribute to an informed, self-sustained environment for participatory action and change. In Cali, Colombia, we will be the first to ask communities to address this intersection and promote their innovative thinking for solutions.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

My home institution ( ; is an arbovirology lab. One of our long-term goals is to optimize control strategies to prevent these emerging infections. The intersection that we are interested in will require diverse collaborations. We hope to engage the Peace and innovation lab at Stanford (, and Vallenpaz ( from Cali, Colombia.

Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Living in Cali, Colombia during the chikungunya and Zika outbreaks, we asked the community members to introduce us to the highest risk areas for infection. We found that the most important risk in these communities is violence and mosquito-borne diseases are secondary. We propose to bring communities together to promote peace and health through innovation.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

The internal conflict in Colombia has displaced many people who arrive to cities like Cali without the resources to buy or rent housing. This contributed to informal settlements on the outskirts of the city, creating fragmented communities with invisible borders and gang activity. In addition to daily violence people experience, communities are deprived of basic services like mosquito control and sanitation, and economic opportunities. We will work with local community to understand the evidence and design and implement the community’s proposed projects to enable peace, health, and prosperity. Previous studies on violence have shown that rather than enacting or enforcing stricter laws, policymakers should focus on (1) ‘diversity’, (2) ‘disorder’, and (3) ‘community decline’. We strongly believe that proposed examples ‘Treasure for trash’, ‘soap operas’, and ‘social entrepreneur incubator’ touch exactly on these three issues. We are excited to hear from the local communities!

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Our collaborators at Stanford University (U.) include experts in gender-based violence, peace and innovation, and arbovirology. Partners at the GIS Health & Hazards Lab at Kent State U. are pioneering new methods to measure environmental context. Previously, we worked with the Secretaria de Salud Municipal (SOH) and ICESI and Libre U. to understand the outbreaks of arboviral disease and homicide risk. We have recently partnered with The SOH, Centro Internacional de Entrenamiento e Investigaciones Medicas (CIDEIM), and La Fundación Valle de Lili (FVL) to validate a mobile application to diagnose acute febrile illness and share the data with physicians and the SOH in real time to create an arboviral early warning system. We hosted the entrepreneurs from Campus Nova at Javeriana U. when they visited the bay areas in 2016 and are looking forward to working more closely with this group of mentors and entrepreneurs from Cali, Colombia. We also hope to engage Cali-based Vallenpaz.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The informal settlement in Cali, Colombia has a surplus of young people ready to work. The secretary of health (SOH) is supportive of efforts to prevent violence and promote health in the city. The office of entrepreneurship at Javeriana University is a leader in mentorship and training of new entrepreneurs with years of experience and an extensive network of collaborators both in Cali and worldwide.

Geographic Focus

Our idea is focused on Cali, Colombia, where we have preliminary data to support our project.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

36 months. We propose to conduct focus groups and community meetings in the first six months of the project and implement the solution in the following 30 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Angi Yoder Maina

Hi Amy Krystosik 

I have a few questions about your proposed initiative. Your concept talks about the trash to treasure initiative in Kenya -- can you tell me more what this initiative does?

You may need to rethink your concept a bit more or explain more of your innovation, as from reading your concept I am still not sure how it would work. How will giving successful applicants a monthly stipend and startup costs help them start successful private sector business? And what kind of local businesses will be both peace and health related? Do you have some idea of the type of businesses which can be created by this type of innovation lab? What will keep hundreds of unemployed young people from starting the same type of businesses?

Best of luck. I hope some of these questions can help you refine your ideas.


Photo of Amy Robyn Krystosik

Hi Angi,

Thanks for your great questions. They are definitely important points to refine before final submission. Perhaps peace or health ideas would be better rather than requiring that both are met. Assuming that our cycle of innovation leads to peace, an idea supporting either would feedback into the positive cycle of health and peace. Your second point- re: the number proposed versus the number of ideas we can fund- is a weak point in that we want to avoid creating conflict due to competition for limited project funding. For that reason, we propose the community training component as sort of filter to select the top applicants yet providing a benefit to the whole community.

Our trash to treasure project in Kenya is just getting started! I see you also working Kenya and it would be great to think about how we might collaborate!

Photo of Angi Yoder Maina

I would love to know more about the trash to treasure project. One of my best friends is always trying to talk my husband into some sort of "trash to treasure" project everyone they have a drink together as the night wears on. My husband is always laughing and says at least in Nairobi, the trash has it's owners in the powerful trash cartels and that it would be very dangerous to venture there. But we have a huge trash issue in Nairobi and would love to know about any creative ideas to solve it.

Good luck and feel free to get in touch.


Photo of Amy Robyn Krystosik

Here is more information about Trash to Treasure: Collecting trash for profit to reduce vector breeding sites in Kwale County, Kenya.
Mosquitoes are the deadliest animal in the world because they carry pathogens that make humans sick. One very important mosquito vector, Aedes aegypti, spreads dengue, Zika, chikungunya, and yellow fever. This mosquito bites in the daytime and likes to breed in man-made containers, such as recyclable plastic containers, tires, and trash. In this proposal, our primary objective is to test whether a community-based recycling program can engage aspiring businesspeople to turn trash into profit in Kwale County, Kenya. We know that trash is the most productive mosquito habitat in this region, so we expect to improve health by reducing mosquito-borne diseases (such as dengue (DENV) and chikungunya (CHIKV) viruses) and to alleviate poverty by generating income. In our study site, Kwale County, there is a particularly high rate of unemployment, especially among young adults. Our proposal will entice individuals to improve the health of their communities while making money.
Community-based vector control programs in both Kenya and Mexico have paid community members to perform vector control activities; However, these programs don’t last because they rely on a constant support from donors or the government. We will overcome this challenge by providing community members with the support needed to generate income from trash to make vector control profitable. Trash, specifically unused containers like bottles, buckets, and tires, can be re-purposed for a variety of profitable items. As part of an ongoing study, we have conducted meetings where community members expressed interest in creating value from trash, but initial support is needed in the form of start-up funds, mentorship, and skill-building.
We hypothesize that profitable businesses which motivate community members to remove trash from the community will reduce vector breeding containers. From our ongoing studies, we have identified that the majority of mosquito breeding sites are in unused containers or “trash.” Our team has another project that has identified the potential for community members to collect trash and create value. So far, 250 school children have collected more than one ton of trash consisting of nearly 30,000 containers which they are using to plant trees in school grounds, neighborhoods and homesteads. This ongoing study has laid the groundwork to spark community members to turn trash into treasure.
We will conduct our study in two phases:
Phase 1: Planning Phase: To test whether community-based recycling/repurposing will work, we plan to join with local partners to identify target communities, identify how best to do community mobilization, identify the volumes of waste available, and scope layout of solid waste/recycling industries and market opportunities for the trash. At this time, we have collected estimates of the volumes of waste available through our ongoing community mobilization project. We have also begun to engage outside partners (China) to determine possibilities for recycling out of the country. We plan to hold two workshops to engage local partners and build capacity to ensure sustainability.
Phase 2: Pilot an entrepreneur incubator program. We will invite all community members to a meeting where we will introduce the idea of starting a social enterprise to remove trash from the environment. During the meeting, everyone will be invited to share their ideas about how to create value from trash. Interested individuals will be selected to apply to participate in the social entrepreneurship program where they create and execute business plans.
Funding from our partners will catalyze this proof-of-concept initiative. To apply our learnings from this 12-month project and to create lasting change, we will apply for further funding to ensure that the social entrepreneurs are on track toward sustainable income and have measurably reduced trash volume and mosquito breeding.

Photo of Angi Yoder Maina

This is a great intervention. Who could we be in touch with about a potential partnership?

Thanks for the detail explanation.

Kaltuma Noorow please read this about the trash for treasure initiative at the coast.

Photo of Amy Robyn Krystosik

Email me at and I'll connect you with the team