Community Mobilization

We have defined community mobilization as a process whereby a group of people have transcended their differences to meet on equal terms in order to facilitate a participatory decision-making process. In other words it can be viewed as a process which begins a dialogue among members of the community to determine who, what, and how issues are decided, and also to provide an avenue for everyone to participate in decisions that affect their lives. In the favela of Cachoeira it is evident that there are a number of obstacles which are serving to prevent a mobilization process from occurring.

On the one hand there is quite a strong network in the favela in terms of interdependence or cooperation amongst friends, families, and neighbours. Unfortunately there is little formal organization and strategizing around community organizations which could potentially serve as a means to address their needs. This sense of immobility arises from a number of factors: (1) the misperception that politicians and bureaucrats will alleviate their problems for them (yet the problems of corruption and poor administration are evident), (2) a lack of expertise amongst the community to facilitate such organization, (3) the unwillingness of the community as a whole to give up individual interests to form a broader cooperative, and (4) an extreme shortage of available resources to facilitate the mobilization process.

The solutions to Cachoeira's problems are rooted within the resource capacities of the favela. The organizing structure presented here is based on the concept of self-help, encompassing various distinguishing features of community development theory, practice, and ideology. While it is not assumed that all of the problems of the favela can be resolved by community's efforts alone, it is seen as a means of achieving broad community participation and effort. Through this means it is suggested that the living conditions, facilities and services of the community will improve, along with the empowerment of the community.

In the context of Cachoeira there are a number of pre-existing community groups such as the Mother's Club, the SABE, and church groups which can potentially serve as a the basis for such a mobilization strategy. Based on the articulated goals of the community as indicated in the survey there is potential for new groups to be established to formulate strategies to address pressing problems in the community. In this regard our report looks at four central areas to be addressed: (1) Education and Health, (2) Employment (3) Physical Infrastructure, and (4) Land Tenure. The following four sections look at each of these areas in more detail.


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