Due to isolation, rural communities often have limited access to employment, health care, education, and resources such as information and communications technology. A culture of dependency tends to arise from these circumstances.
Through the cClear Pilot Project, CEN aimed to transform the economic opportunities of communities within the Middle Amazon by creating a culture of learning through accessing and applying information, where communities become truly empowered with the skills and attitudes to accomplish their objectives.
The objectives of the cCLEAR pilot project were to:
Due to isolation, rural communities often have limited access to employment, health care, education, and resources such as information and communications technology. A culture of dependency tends to arise from these circumstances, along with the all too often paternalistic attitudes of governmental and non-governmental organizations. CEN aims to transform rural communities by creating a culture of learning through accessing and applying information, where communities become truly empowered with the skills and attitudes to accomplish their objectives. Instead of communities saying “I can’t” and waiting passively for someone to give or do for them, they will say “I can” and figure out how to achieve their objective on their own.
The two communities where CEN implemented the cCLEAR project were Suruacá and Maguary, in the Brazilian Amazon basin. The approximately 500 residents are largely dependent on farming, hunting, and fishing. This means they are vulnerable to economic crises such as a poor harvest, healthcare emergencies, and other unpredictable events. There are very few employment options in the rural Amazon.
Suruacá and Maguary, like many other isolated and traditional communities in the Brazilian Amazon,tend to have difficulty adapting to the rapid modernization of today’s world. Operating in modern society requires the use of vast amounts of diverse information, much of which is structured in very different ways to those which residents are accustomed. They must also interact with diverse cultures, behaviors and ways of thinking, which often doesn’t come naturally. There have been great efforts to install computers and internet access in the developing world in order to “bridge the digital divide”. These are very powerful tools but their great potential has not been fully realized due largely to the inability of residents to process information and apply it to their needs. Although CEN and others have improved infrastructure in Suruacá and Maguary through technology and transportation, these communities must be able to manage their own resources, otherwise they will be managed by others for them - to the benefit of others. Today many of their resources – their youth, money and forest resources – are being drained to nearby cities.
This project was the pilot project for CEN’s comprehensive, integrated approach aimed at sustainably transforming the economic opportunities of communities within the Middle Amazon Region of Brazil.
The objectives of the cCLEAR pilot project were to:
We worked with 30 thought and action leaders (including health care workers, teachers, youth, entrepreneurs, and women’s groups) in Suruacá and Maguary. The project focused on developing essential skills and mindsets, as well as entrepreneurship skills. The instruction team developed a methodology called PRATICAR Learning Approach, which is a cycle of discovery-based activities, mentoring and discussions between each participant and facilitator, which strengthens essential basic skills and habits of participants.
CEN partnered with Link Social, a Brazilian-registered non-profit based in Rio de Janeiro, to implement the project.
The project ran from May 2008 to October 2009 in Suruacá and May 2008 to December 2009 in Maguary. CEN sought to build the skills of the 30 thought and action by mentoring them on a variety of personal income generation projects, including new personal businesses, rubber products, and eco-tourism.
The first two months were spent selecting the 30 participants, mapping out what resources they had and what skills were needed, meeting with participants to determine what skills and projects they wanted to work on, developing lesson plans, and other preparatory work.
In months 2-12 was the instruction cycle:
The pilot project concluded in September 2009, somewhat abruptly, due to the resignation of both local staff members. At the time the project concluded, the participants were in the process of completing their last cycle of activities, which was to involve the creation of a booth in Santarém where residents could sell products they produced. Due to their abrupt departure, this last activity was never completed, and was a source of demotivation for several participants.
In July 2010, CEN’s Director Bob Bortner returned to the community to conduct an evaluation.
The initial impact of our work is best seen by changes in the behavior of the participants, such as by:
In addition, an increasing number of residents we've worked with:
With this increased income participants are able to:
The most important accomplishment of the pilot was the development of our comprehensive approach to building self reliance in communities, as well as our unique learning approach called PRATICAR, which sets CEN apart from the work done by many other development organizations. More than a year after it ended, community members are still using the skills they developed during the pilot. Learn more about the impact of our work.