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Future Plans

The 16 communities of the Eixo Forte are located between 20 to 40 kilometers from the city of Santarém, the third-largest city in the Brazilian Amazon. The leading source of income for the families of the region today is the production of manioc, an edible root that is a staple food throughout the region.

Despite the Eixo Forte's proximity to the city of Santarém, and economic opportunities from increasing tourism and economic development in the region, nearly half of the region's residents earn less than $2 per day, and most residents continue to live on subsistence agriculture. Despite the considerable income that companies and people from outside of the region are making from industrial-scale farming, fruit processing, forestry, and growing tourism in the region, many residents – especially the youth – perceive that few economic opportunities exist for the local populations beyond subsistence agriculture. As a result, young adults flock to Santarém and other cities in search of work and education.

One of the greatest threats to communities is the loss of their youth. When the younger generations leave a community, they take with them the future of that community. Not only does urban migration aggravate overcrowding and poverty in cities, but it also robs rural communities of their vital energy and puts their cultural identity at risk. Once youth leave, few return to live in their home area. Read more about why youth are leaving the region and its impact on development >>

Latest news: (January 1, 2017): With CEN's assistance, the CFR has raised 100 percent of the cost of the project. This has allowed the school to excavate the well and install the pump, and they are now in the process of connecting the system to the host community's new central water main. 

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Rural Family Home offers rural youth skills and opportunities

Rural Family Home diggingIn many parts of Brazil and around the world, Rural Family Home (Casa Familiar Rural or CFR) centers have proven to be a successful catalyst for defining a viable path to improve quality of life through regionally relevant scholastic and vocational education. CFRs teach youth how to create sustainable vocations for themselves and their families without moving to urban centers while providing them with the skills to do so. This approach has helped to stem migration, increase family incomes, and build more vibrant communities.

CFRs are three-year vocational training programs offering young rural men and women a locally relevant, interdisciplinary education that enables them to become rural professionals who are ready to exercise their full rights and responsibilities as citizens. As an alternative to the formal secondary education provided by the government, CFRs provide students with a core academic education, as well as the practical skills and experience needed to create sustainable vocations for themselves in such fields as farming, livestock production, and tourism, right within their own communities. Read more about the Rural Family Home >>

In 1999, the Rural Family Home of Santarém in the Eixo Forte (CFR-Santarém) was established in hope of replicating the success of CFRs in other parts of the country. As of 2015, the CFR-Santarém had 51 registered students, including young caboclo (a mix of European, black and Indian blood) men and women from agricultural families, quilombolas (descendants of slaves), and indigenous youth. Most of the students come from families that earn a living through small-scale family-based agriculture or fishing. Students come from communities of the Eixo Forte; the RESEX, an extractive reserve located on the western shore of the Tapajós River; Arapiuns River; the Planalto and along the Amazon River itself.

Over 100 youth have completed the program, many of whom have remained in their communities and apply what they learned to increase their family’s income by diversifying beyond raising manioc, the staple crop that families have raised for generations. Others have found work with a nearby forestry school and government agencies, where their hands-on knowledge gives them an edge over applicants with simple book learning. Many have started their own families. In 2015, new applications for the CFR program exceeded available space. This good news demonstrates that an increasing number of families of the region see the potential of the program.

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Problem: A lack of clean water is among the multiple challenges the CFR faces to achieving its potential

The CFR-Santarém’s significant progress is all the more impressive given the multitude of challenges to facilities and infrastructure, financial resources and programming and staffing that the staff and students continue to face. As a result of great efforts by the Parent Association of the CFR, the instructors, the center's director, Marilene Rodrigues Rocha, and the students, the CFR has been operating on and off for over 10 years. Financial, human and material limitations have proven to be significant obstacles to its long-term sustainability. Read more about the CFR’s challenges >>

Among the CFR’s most urgent needs is access to clean water. The nearest water well is over 5 kilometers away from both the current makeshift shelter and from the CFR's land. The staff and students must either haul water by hand or by vehicle when they find someone with a car. The center is located between several small creeks; however, these courses are being gradually silted and contaminated, not only by waste from households, but also by pesticides used by soybean growers in large plantations in the headwaters of these micro basins. As a result, these creeks can't be relied upon as a source of drinking water for students, staff members or the residents of the adjacent community of Santa Maria.

The lack of a permanent and adequate physical structure is a serious obstacle to instruction as well as to adequate lodging and care for the students. Furthermore, the lack of a water delivery system also hinders the staff and students from irrigating crops, complicating a critical aspect of the program's practice-based instruction. The daily need to haul water for drinking, cooking and instructional use contributes to staff frustration and burnout, complicates the staff's ability to provide a quality educational experience, and negatively impacts the CFR's ability to recruit students to enroll in the program.

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Project Objectives

The objectives of the Rural Family Home Artesian Well Project are to:

  • Construct a semi-artesian well to extract groundwater approximately 164 feet (50 meters) deep in order to provide the Rural Family Home with a critical piece of infrastructure that it needs to become sustainable and capable of becoming an educational alternative for the youth of the Eixo Forte
  • Provide clean drinking water to students, staff, and the neighboring community’s 200 residents, and provide water for irrigation of the facility's test fields and greenhouse
  • Serve as a practical exercise for teaching the students construction methods and reinforce arithmetic skills

This project is a key step in a comprehensive plan to upgrade the physical infrastructure, improve the financial condition, and raise the standard of instruction of the CFR. The CFR aims to enable the residents of the Eixo Forte to gain the education and skills needed to create sustainable livelihoods and provide for their families and rural communities. The CFR will provide three years of vocational training that will enable young rural men and women to become rural professionals and educate them on subjects such as the science of agriculture, animal husbandry, responsible land use, and tourism, among others. By providing this locally relevant and interdisciplinary education to the youth of the Eixo Forte, the CFR hopes to encourage younger generations to remain in their rural communities and foster self-reliance.

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Project Plan

Task    Completed by whom Time frame for completion
Dig the well Professional well excavator 2 weeks
Harvest wood for the reservoir Community members and CFR students 1 month
Haul wood to building site and mill lumber Community members and CFR students 2 weeks
Construct the pump house Community members and CFR students with oversight by professional excavator 1 month
Construct reservoir platform and piping Community members and CFR students with oversight by professional plumber 1 month
Connect pump Professional plumber with assistance of CFR students 3 days
Connect the pump house to the electric grid CFR students with oversight by professional electrician 1 week
Install electric box and connect power supply to pump CFR students with oversight by professional electrician 2 days

Suruaca-water-well

 

CFR students will assist with the harvesting and milling of lumber as well as with the design and construction activities. These activities will be integrated into the classroom curriculum and will provide practical application of concepts learned in the classroom, including math and science. 

System specifications

The semi-artesian well, designed according to the specifications of the Brazilian Technical Standards Association, will be approximately 164 feet (50 meters) deep and will pump over 14 liters of groundwater each minute. The water reservoir tank will hold 10,000 liters (approximately 2,642 gallons). The well’s pump will be powered through a network connection approximately 1 kilometer away, using a transmission line of 20 hardwood posts spaced 50 meters apart.

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Project Team

The project will be managed by the Association of the CFR-Santarém, which in turn will be advised by Eunice Sena. Ms. Sena is a highly experienced community organizer and has been working closely with the communities of the region since 2010. She also currently serves as the local project manager for CEN’s community-based tourism project in the Eixo Forte, which is assisting the region to implement its comprehensive regional development plan.  

The Community Empowerment Network will provide operational and financial support for the project.

Team member Role in project
Marilene Rodrigues Rocha, director of Association of the CFR-Santarém Co-project manager
Francinete Dias de Sousa, operations agent of CFR-Santarém Co-project manager
Eunice Sena, local project manager for CEN’s Eixo Forte Community-Based Tourism Project Project adviser
Robert Bortner, director, Community Empowerment Network Operational and financial support

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Budget

The original estimate for the total cost of the project was $14,743. Due to cost savings identified by the CFR staff, as well as the strengthening value of the U.S. dollar, the budget has been revised to $9,352. Of this amount, $4,463 is for the cost of materials and $4,888 is for labor. CEN’s aim is not simply to provide complete funding for the project ourselves, but is instead to assist the community’s efforts to accomplish specific goals on its own. As a reflection of this, the CFR leveraged the cash that CEN contributed to raise commitments valued at a similar amount from other sources. The CFR also secured a donation of a 10,000-liter water tank, the wood needed to construct the water tower, and community labor for the construction. In addition, through creativity and flexibility, the CFR found ways to reduce the cost of the project by over 37 percent.

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Project Status

Donate-to-this-project(January 1, 2017): With CEN's assistance, the CFR has raised 100 percent of the cost of the project. This has allowed the school to excavate the well and install the pump, and they are now in the process of connecting the system to the host community's new central water main.

To date, CEN has provided the CFR with approximately $1,928 in cash for the project. Our aim is not simply to give money for projects, but is instead to assist the community’s efforts to accomplish specific goals on its own. As a reflection of this, the CFR leveraged the cash that CEN contributed to raise commitments valued at a similar amount from other sources. The CFR also secured a donation of a 10,000-liter water tank, the wood needed to construct the water tower, and community labor for the construction. In addition, through creativity and flexibility, the CFR found ways to reduce the cost of the project by over 37 percent.

As a further development, Eunice Sena, CEN’s local partner, has helped the CFR to submit a proposal to a Brazilian government program to make significant improvements to the school’s building and other critical infrastructure.

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Anticipated Impact

When completed, this project will:

  • Provide clean water to the staff and students of the CFR, and to over 200 residents of Santa Maria
  • Improve the staff's ability to provide a quality educational experience
  • Better the CFR's ability to recruit students to enroll in the program
  • Build and connect modern latrines to their home
  • Be a critical step toward building a permanent facility for the CFR and realize its potential

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Future Plans

As mentioned previously, this project is a key step in a comprehensive plan to upgrade the physical infrastructure, improve the financial condition, and raise the standard of instruction of the CFR. The CFR aims to enable the residents of the Eixo Forte to gain the education and skills needed to create sustainable livelihoods and provide for their families and rural communities. The CFR will provide three years of vocational training that will enable young rural men and women to become rural professionals and educate them on subjects such as the science of agriculture, animal husbandry, responsible land use, and tourism, among others. By providing this locally relevant and interdisciplinary education to the youth of the Eixo Forte, the CFR hopes to encourage younger generations to remain in their rural communities and foster self-reliance.

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