This report was conducted by students in the Department of City Planning at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada and represents the results of a four month project on community mobilization in the favela of Cachoeira in Campina Grande, Brazil. The primary task of the project has been to develop a framework or strategy for action to assist the residents of Cachoeira in finding technical support, human resources, and ideas and solutions so that they may begin working together to deal with the many complex daily problems. This framework is in keeping with the needs, aspirations, assets, and challenges of the favelados and the broader Brazilian context.
In order to gain an appreciation of the context in which Cachoeira is situated it was necessary to inform ourselves by a number of different methods. The initial task involved a comprehensive literature review to facilitate an understanding of the broader social, political, economic, and environmental components that make up Brazil. We also had the opportunity to learn from the perspectives of five Brazilians who shared with us their experiences of living and working there. These guests included, Dr. Marx Barbosa, Ms. Angela Coelho, Ph.D. student in psychology at the University of Manitoba, Ms, Eluide Cavalcante, Masters student in education, Dr. Yara Lasse who has worked as a practicing planner in Brazil, and Professor Walter Santa Cruz from the Universidade Federal de Paraiba, Campina Grande. Videos discussing community development efforts in Curitiba and Fortaleza, Brazil were also viewed.
The next phase involved translating and analyzing the results of the questionnaire survey and report, Vunerabilidade e Riscos em Communidades Urbano - Marginais, which gathered extensive information about employment, housing, community activities, health, and education from 200 residents of Cachoeira. The survey results were the principle source of data from which the needs, aspirations, challenges and assets of the favelados were determined. The needs and aspirations were classified into five categories: community mobilization, education and health, employment, infrastructure, and land tenure. From the survey and the literature reviewed the project team was also able to ascertain a number of challenges faced by the favelados. These include a lack of community cohesion and organization, real and perceived powerlessness, conflicting interests, lack of resources and facilities, social malaise (hunger, poverty, discrimination, illicit drugs and substance abuse, and prostitution), illiteracy, lack of land tenure or security, and lack of political will. As well as the challenges, the favelados have a number of community and individual assets and resources that need to be realized and utilized for development of the community.
In order to facilitate the community development process a number of guiding principles were outlined. As a theoretical framework these principles are intended to be incorporated by the favelados to aid in the practical application of the strategies for action. These principles are as follows: capacity building, self-determination, participatory democracy, equity, mutual learning, environmental sustainability, justice not charity, local knowledge, and empowerment.
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