The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Development of the Local Organizational and Management Capacity in the Eixo Forte

Grant Information
Categories Community , Education , Environment
Location International
Cycle Year 2012
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) Community Empowerment Network
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name Robert Bortner
Phone 206-329-6244
1685 Grandview Place
Additional Information
Used for CEN has partnered with Federação das Associações de Moradores, Comunidades e Entidades do Assentamento Agroextrativista do Eixo Forte (FAMCEEF), a Brazilian Amazon federation of local community, trade, and other civic associations of the region, to support the advancement of their recently completed, community-led Regional Development Action Plan. This plan is a comprehensive vision for development in their region, based on community-based tourism. Our objective in this project is to strengthen the organizational and management capacity of the Eixo Forte region’s residents ability to coordinate and manage the plan, to create community administrative councils in each of the 16 communities, and to encourage broad participation of residents in the execution of the plan.
Benefits This grant will support CEN’s efforts to assist residents of the Eixo Forte as they coordinate and manage their community-developed and -led Regional Development Action Plan. This module will lead to improved leadership and management capacity of 150 members of regional and local associations responsible for executing the plan, allowing them to move forward with their efforts to build sustainable livelihoods and foster the long-term development of their communities.
Proposal Description Situation Faced
Tourism is among the largest of Brazil’s industries, employing one in every 11 workers. International tourism to Brazil has increased by 10% each year for the past decade, and the World Tourism Organization estimates this will continue to grow at a rate of 5.2% per year. Furthermore, tourism in the Brazilian Amazon has increased more than 80% over the past five years. Despite this hopeful outlook, the reality for poor and working class families in Brazil is not as bright. Brazil is also one of the most unequal economies, with some of the highest rates of poverty in the world. Of its population of roughly 80 million, the poor constitute roughly one-third of the population.

Rural populations, such as those the Lower Amazon River region, are particularly marginalized. The communities of Eixo Forte are located in the Brazilian Amazon, near the confluence of the Amazon and Tapajós Rivers. Its proximity to the city of Santarém, colorful local flora and fauna, and some of the region’s most beautiful beaches, have already attracted visitors to the Eixo Forte communities. However, 45% percent of the region’s residents earn less than $2/day, and few opportunities exist for the local populations to fully and gainfully participate in these economic opportunities and the essential decision-making processes that directly affect their communities and environment. Further, there are already signs of outside investors and developers in the region and construction by outsiders - largely without regard for the effects and impact it will have on the environment and local communities - is already underway. As one resident and current CEN partner Eunice Sena noted,

All this is endangered, but this is very important to be preserved. There you will find many watersheds that need to be preserved . . . but also the humans, the people need to be preserved with their culture, their way of life, their way of being, and without neglecting the progress that the region needs, like energy, sanitary treatment . . .If nobody does this work, pretty soon that area will turn into mansions and vacation homes for the rich.”

Likewise, João Ferreira Cardoso, a native of the region, explained the following:

“We see more tourists around the region every year, and more and more outsiders are building vacation homes here. We know tourism is coming; we want to make sure we benefit from it and are not just bystanders looking at the opportunities pass us by.”

Unless the local communities acquire the appropriate skills and resources to drive the development process, they will become bystanders of corporate development with few economic gains for themselves and at risk of losing their unique lifestyle, culture and ecological base.

The Community Empowerment Network (CEN) is a US-based 501(c)(3) that works directly with local communities to develop and implement customized solutions to eliminate poverty and break the cycle of dependency. At CEN, our goal is to empower the members of rural communities to create and successfully pursue sustainable economic opportunities. Our work stems from the experiences, observations, and conclusions drawn from years of work concerning economic development by CEN's core members (See attached bio for our Director, Robert Bortner, for more information).

Rather than employ a large internal staff, we conduct our work with the help of volunteers, from college students to professionals to retirees, all with diverse experiences. Many of our board members and volunteers have spent time in developing countries and have backgrounds in sociology, cultural anthropology, community and adult education, microenterprise development, and more. In addition, we have the internal staffing resources needed to handle operations through the breadth and depth of volunteers. Our projects are implemented through a growing network of locally based organizations with the trust of our client communities. We also work with nongovernmental organizations, local and national government agencies, universities, and corporations with a vast knowledge of technical skills, market development, micro-credit, shipping, and other aspects of the product value chain.

CEN employs three principal strategies to enable communities and their residents to decide on and achieve their own development objectives, and to sustain these gains over time as they move out of poverty. First, we strengthen critical basic skills and mindsets, such as critical thinking and problem solving, through our PRATICAR learning approach that utilizes a cycle of activities, mentoring, and discussion to reinforce self-reliance. Two years after the completion of our pilot implementation of this methodology, over 80% of participants continue to exhibit significantly stronger basic skills and motivation. Second, we build higher-level skills by providing business, leadership, entrepreneurial, and vocation-related training, acting as consultants rather than teachers. And third, we remove structural barriers, such as inadequate transportation or access to capital, by collaborating closely with government and non-government organizations.

We distinguish ourselves from other rural development initiatives by not handing our clients the solutions to their problems. Dictating needs undermines each community member's potential to tackle their own priorities with knowledge, skill, and confidence. Our focus from the beginning of each project is to build the decision-making power of the individuals and communities we serve. We allow them to decide their own priorities and objectives; then, using tools such as mentoring, training and information technology, we help them build the skills and confidence to achieve these goals. Our aim is for community residents to use the skills and mindsets honed in this training to create a better future for themselves and their families, and to continue this progress after we have disengaged. Overall, such a community oriented approach is seen as a more valuable and effective way for communities to develop economically, culturally, and environmentally according to their own needs and desires. (Kirtsoglou and Theodossopoulos, 2004: 153).

Project Background
The Development of the Local Organizational and Management Capacity in the Eixo Forte Project, for which we are requesting your support, is a component of our larger Eixo Forte Community-based Tourism (CBT) Program. Based on a community-driven needs assessment, the ultimate goal for the overall Eixo Forte CBT Program is to create sustainable livelihoods for families in the region that reflect their way of life and which improve economic levels and retain the local ecology throughout the region through. We help the communities to achieve this in three ways.:

Assist the communities in creating and implementing a plan for eco-tourism in the region;
Ensure community members have the capacity to execute this plan; and
Help community members to overcome key structural obstacles that would otherwise compromise the long-term social and economic sustainability of the region’s tourism initiative. These obstacles include social capital, access to credit and markets, strong local commercial value chains for their products, and infrastructure.

Community-based tourism (CBT) allows a community to share its environment and way of life with visitors while cultivating a sustainable source of income and building local economies; it is known for its ability to provide local communities with economic benefits, democratic participation, empowerment, and a sense of ownership. We agree with the World Wildlife Foundation’s (WWF) 2001 guidelines for CBT development, which states that tourism development and practice “should be environmentally sustainable, economically viable and socially equitable” (WWF International, 2001: pg. 3). Such an approach to tourism includes all aspects of planning, developing, marketing, and managing resources and facilities, to help communities become knowledgeable and capable in all areas needed remain sustainable.

In keeping with these guidelines, the Eixo Forte CBT Program was born out of the community members’ desires to better their communities. CEN is currently partnering with the Federação das Associações de Moradores, Comunidades e Entidades do Assentamento Agroextrativista do Eixo Forte (“FAMCEEF”, a federation of associations of local community, trade and other civic associations of the region) to implement this CBT program with 16 rural communities of Eixo Forte, located about 30 km east of the city of Santarém. The Federation was established in 2007 with the goal of representing the collective interests of the communities, which include more than 1,000 families.

Several years ago, Paulo Melo, who has worked in the region for much of his career and will serve as a technician in this project, initiated community development efforts in the community of Cucurunã, one of the communities in the Eixo Forte. Since this time, Cucurunã has experienced one of its most promising periods, as community members have worked together to improve the power of community mobilization to solve its own problems, which led to a significant increase in the self-esteem of the community. These efforts resulted in the community coming together to repair and beautify community spaces, and to transform a festival honoring the community’s patron saint into an event that attracts visitors from around the region, including the city of Santarém.

In 2010, Mr. Melo and Eunice Sena, another community development professional who has strong ties with the local women’s movement, began a process of holding multiple series meetings in each community of the Eixo Forte, to which any resident interested in the development of the region was invited to attend. These meetings were to mobilize the communities and encourage them to develop a coherent vision for the social and economic development of their communities.(Please see a summary of the Regional Development Action Plan based on CBT that resulted from these efforts at
Around this time, CEN joined efforts with these two local partners, who each have over 25 years of successful hands-on experience with community development in the region, and together with the communities of Eixo Forte, the current team was solidified.

Earlier this year, with the help of our team, FAMCEEF established twelve working groups charged with the responsibility of supporting the Executive Board by facilitating the coordination with and among the region’s various communities and community organizations and helping to oversee the execution of the plan. They are focused on the following areas of development: education, infrastructure, product production, sports, health, funding, transportation, environment, culture, communication, and training and security. These workgroups will work additionally alongside local member associations (which include schools, sports groups, church groups, women’s groups, and community groups, while the various working groups are focused on the following: education, infrastructure, product production, sports, health, funding, transportation, environment, culture, communication, and training and security). Approximately 40-50 people total are involved with FAMCEEF and the working groups, with another 80-100 involved with community associations.

The Eixo Forte CBT Program was initiated by community members and focuses extensively on building the capacity of the residents become self-reliant. As Eunice Sena explained, “The intervention has to happen with the people who live there.” This approach is consistent with WWF’s belief that initiatives should be community-led and community-focused, but also that initiatives should be developed and understood by the local community and other involved stakeholders. In addition to working with existing social and community structures, this process also reveals potential leaders within the community. CEN provided the partners and communities with a comprehensive model for development, expertise in strengthening basic skills and building self-reliant mindsets, and financial support.

Objectives for this Module
To facilitate delivery, the Eixo Forte CBT Program is divided into modules. The recently completed first module laid the groundwork for the project by mobilizing the regional communities and helping them to define their vision for tourism and development. The communities have generated a Regional Development Action Plan (please see the link previously cited) and created many of the regional institutional structures to carry it out. A primary outcome of this strategic process has been an agreed upon vision for regional development based on ecotourism, including an identification of objectives and priorities, an evaluation plan, and a detailed action plan.

The next module, for which we seek funding, will help to address the following needs:

Weak Skills of Civil Groups
Despite potential to support the work of the Executive Board, the working groups (from FAMCEEF’s Executive Board down to local community association leadership) lack the operational, leadership skills necessary to accomplish the following: plan actions; monitor activities, indicators, and situations; evaluate results; mobilize people; make demands; claim rights; and negotiate solutions with the entities and people involved with the development of the Eixo Forte. It is virtually impossible to imagine the federation achieves their goals with the current skills and capabilities.

Weakness of Community-level Coordination
The successful implementation of the Regional Development Action Plan also depends on effective coordination of initiatives among the many actors at the community level and between FAMCEEF’s various working groups and each community. The ability to do so is weak in most communities in the region due to a lack of a structure to:

engage the various community associations to jointly discuss problems and chose priorities;
align those priorities with those of the Regional Development Action Plan,
oversee the day to day oversight of the execution of an initiative.

While individual community councils are elected by the people to ascertain, coordinate, and express the views of the community it represents to local authorities and other public bodies, the councils lack the resources to assume all the duties named above. Failure to address this need will result in significant delays, inefficiency, wasted resources, and a high likelihood of failure to implement many regional initiatives at the community level.

Lack of Full Civil Inclusion
The broad grassroots participation of all segments of society and of all communities in the region in the execution of the plan is essential in order to:

ensure that no group excluded
maximize the economic and social benefits of the project to all segments of society
augment the ability of the communities to mobilize in order to find solutions to the problems they face.

While citizen mobilization has increased overall since the beginnings of the Program, with most of the larger groups, such as women, youth, farmers and many trade occupations having their own association at least in one community, not all individuals or interests in the community are currently participating in or having their voices heard in the project. These include:

Groups which are not represented in all parts of the region, however, despite significant numbers of residents belonging to that group;
Informal group, which limits their ability to participate on an equal footing with other interest groups that are better organized; and
Populations that aren’t represented at all, particularly those individuals living in more isolated areas away from any community.
Failure to include these voices in the development process risks exclude them from enjoying the full benefits of the project as well as the resources they could bring to it.

Therefore, at this time, we seek funding for our next module of the program, entitled The Development of the Local Organizational and Management Capacity in the Eixo Forte. Our objective in this module, which will last 12 months, is to strengthen the organizational and management capacity of the Eixo Forte region’s residents ability to coordinate and manage the Regional Development Action Plan. We will do this through the following means:

Strengthen the operational capacity of the Regional Federation (FAMCEEF), its member associations, and 12 FAMCEEF working groups, including their ability to coordinate and manage of the Regional Development Action Plan by
Building and implementing a training plan for the core leadership of FAMCEEF and members of the various working groups,
Advising FAMCEEF’s core leadership team to run effective meetings and the execution of their responsibilities,
Advising the planning of the activities of the various working groups,
Organizing a series of intensive workshops to build organizational capacity, and
Organizing meetings between key prefecture and state agencies and members of the Regional Federation.

Create Community Administrative Councils in each of the 16 communities of the Eixo Forte by
Meeting with leaders of each community individually,
Holding community wide meetings for leaders and community groups, and
Advising on the establishment of the Community Administrative Councils.

Ensure a broad participation of the population in the execution of the Regional Development Action Plan by
Strengthening the community organizations that currently exist,

Encouraging existing informal community organizations to become more formally established, and
Identifying marginalized groups that are currently not well represented and increasing their participation.

The successful implementation of the Regional Development Action Plan depends heavily on FAMCEEF’s capacity to plan actions, monitor activities, indicators, and situations, evaluate results, mobilize people, make demands, claim rights, negotiate solutions, among other duties, with the entities and people involved with the development of the Eixo Forte. It is virtually impossible to imagine a federation achieve their goals with the current skills and capabilities structure of the FAMCEEF.

The strategy for building the Community Administrative Councils also begins with enhancing the existing organizations in the communities. It is important for the proper functioning of the councils that the organizations that make up those councils are capable of exercising their activities they take on both efficiently and effectively. The community administrative councils are composed of representatives of existing organizations and is a summation of the various diverse interests in the community. It’s primary role is to define collective priorities and strategies needed to overcome problems. Therefore, it is essential that all organized segments of the community are represented.

Anticipated Results
With the execution of this module, we anticipate that the region’s residents will be able to coordinate and manage the Regional Development Action Plan in an effective manner. Specifically the project will accomplish the following:

Improved leadership and management capacity of 150 members of various local associations, the various working groups, and core FAMCEEF leadership,
Enhanced capability of FAMCEEF, its working groups and community groups throughout the region to execute the regional master plan, and
Establishment of Community Administration Councils in each of the 16 communities of the region.

As result of better organization and representation of the various social and professional segments of the communities, we anticipate that better decision-making through the Community Administrative Councils and FAMCEEF will result. Also, through close coordination between the community- and regional level, it should be easier to mobilize the population, disseminate information and in lead the region’s destiny.

Future Program Plans
The Development of the Local Organizational and Management Capacity Module will provide a critical foundation for the implementation of the rest the Eixo Forte CBT Program in the future. The overall program will accomplish either directly or indirectly the following:

Adequate local organizational capacity to plan and manage local and regional development effectively and efficiently;
Broad participation in the the planning and execution of regional and local development efforts;
Provide a minimum of 150 local women, men and youth entrepreneurs the vocational and entrepreneurial skills the need to build their capacity to start and run micro-businesses;
Increase the number of domestic and international visitors in the region by partnering with Brazil’s national and local travel industry, promoting the region online as a tourist destination, and organizing a limited number of tours to the region;
The creation of adequate physical infrastructure to meet the needs of local residents and an expanding CBT industry
An ability of the region to produce a large share of the goods and services required by the local CBT industry;
Recovery and expanded protection of the local environment;
Increase family incomes of participants by at least 50% activity; and
Identify and begin to address key structural obstacles to ensure continued success after completion of the program.

As part of our exit plan, CEN will gradually withdraw, leaving full organizational leadership in the hands of a robust, self-sustaining, and locally led team. All project activities will be monitored on an ongoing basis to assess progress towards our stated goals, and a full project outcome evaluation will be performed to assess project success and inform future replication. We believe that ecotourism projects should be designed and managed for long-term viability, which is why our timeline assures that the withdrawal of our assistance does not occur too early. Our exit strategy aims to ensure that the communities maintain long-term local ownership, with clear structural support in place..

Our success in the region to date has been accomplished through the passionate and capable volunteer efforts of our partners, as well as CEN’s US-based and Brazilian-based volunteer staff. Our current annual operating budget of $63,000 has been met nearly entirely through hundreds of individual contributions through our annual giving campaign, special events, and in-kind contributions (such as staff volunteer time). Through this strong support we have successfully met our goals for the mobilization of the communities, and the creation of the Regional Development Action Plan.

Building the capacity of the local residents to coordinate and manage their Regional Development Plan is critical next step forward for the success of the overall program. CEN has invested over $20,000 to implement this module, but we need additional financial support in order to realize this project, as well as other modules of the overall program. An $12,178 investment from the Dudley Dougherty Foundation for this keystone component of the overall program will enable us to proceed with the initiative.

We request a total of $12,178 from the Dudley Dougherty Foundation to provide support to our project for a total of 12 months. Although CEN will contribute a significant amount (see the attached Budget), additional funds are needed for both fuels expenses and salaries. With sixteen communities in the Eixo Forte, many of which lack reliable communication infrastructure, travel between communities is necessary to communicate, monitor progress, and be visible for morale. The fuel entry represents the cost for CEN's local Brazilian partners to travel across the region in order to ensure excellent communication, progress, and leadership. We have calculated a needed total of $2,673.27.

In addition, we need to provide $8,910.89 towards a salary to our Project Coordinator, Eunice Sena, a Brazilian development expert who lives in the region and is knowledgeable about and accepted by its communities as a local leader. Briefly, the local Project Coordinator is the communication nexus between the Eixo Forte and CEN, and among the communities. She also oversees the on-the-ground, day-to-day aspects of the project. In addition, we will provide a technical specialist, Paulo Sérgio Campos de Melo, with a salary of $594.06 so that he may will assist Ms. Sena with training. Separately, CEN's executive director will monitor overall progress and coordinate between CEN in the United States and the local project coordinator in Brazil.

The remaining project costs will be covered entirely by CEN and include round-trip airfare between Brazil and the United States for CEN's executive director, Robert Bortner. Two, ten-day site visits are expected, which will be funded by CEN. Site visits are necessary to monitor and evaluate overall progress, troubleshoot problems, and liaison between CEN and the Eixo Forte communities. In addition. CEN will produce a video about the Eixo Forte and using footage from the area and the project. Production and distribution of the video will result in CEN's having a tool to educate the public, grant foundations and potential partners about the area and CEN's work, resulting in increased support for CEN and overall project. The amount in the budget represents the cost of shooting video footage and photography about the region and the project.