Home Institution

College of the Atlantic

Publication Date

Spring 2006

Program Name

Brazil: Culture, Development, and Social Justice


The government programs seek to improve the condition of the oppressed and the poor, but very few truly have a sustainable positive impact on the lives of the poor. This research, through a case study of a program, Pilot Project of Selective Collection in Jangurussu, run by municipal officers for the benefit of garbage pickers (catadores do lixo in Brazil), attempts to define what characterizes and ensures the sustainable improvement in the work-related rights of catadores in Fortaleza, a city in Northeast Brazil, through seeking perspectives from two important stakeholders, the catadores and the municipal officers. Organizing catadores into legal organizations, implanting selective collection and providing infrastructure were visions shared by both catadores and the officers, while lack of government accountability and lack of immediate results was a challenge expressed only by the catadores. The similarities in the visions led to collaborations while the differences in visions of the two players lead to certain challenges faced by the project. Open dialogue about each other’s visions would help recognize the true cause, and potential solution, of the challenge being faced. For example, creating mediums through which catadores can hold the Prefeitura accountable helps them give more ownership, control and input into process, and will increase the trust between catadores and Prefeitura (municipal government)—a currently sensed challenge. In order to truly have a sustainable impact, it is important that an initiative includes the beneficiaries since the planning stage, dialogue about the sustainable vision, constantly question ‘why?’ when confronted with a challenge and always seek to find the cause of the problem. Ultimately, how much initiative one is willing to take in collaboration with other partners to mitigate challenges will determine the viability of heading one step closer to their sustainable vision each time.


Inequality and Stratification | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Welfare


Article Location