Project information

Sustainable livelihoods in rural North East Brazil

By putting organic agriculture at the heart of community development in the semi-arid region of North East Brazil, rural families will overcome poverty by improving their incomes, improving their diets, and taking part in the political decision-making processes that affect their daily lives.

January 2010 - January 2013

Charity information: International Service (IS)

International Service (IS) logo
  • Need


    The semi-arid region of Pernambuco State, known as The Sertão, is characterised by high temperatures, slash-and-burn commercial agriculture, scarce water, and severe environmental degradation. Isolated rural communities struggle to grow nutritious food for their families and make a living from farming. As a result, parts of Pernambuco State experience levels of poverty on a par with Equatorial Guinea (ranked 136 on the Human Development Index).


    The project trains local farmers, families, communities and agricultural NGOs in sustainable organic farming techniques. This will strengthen family incomes and the local economy, especially as families and farmers are not forced to spend their income on expensive pesticides. Organic farming is also a sustainable way of improving the local environment to overcome the severe conditions and effects of intensive farming.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Increase the production, availability, and purchasing of good quality organic food in 21 communities


    » Purchasing equipment and tools to development farming plots, small animal rearing units, and urban vegetable gardens.
    » Setting up 14 small animal raising units for goats, sheep, poultry, and beekeeping.
    » Working with 21 communities to developing 112 rural farm plots, 70 urban kitchen gardens, and 7 school gardens.
    » Setting up 7 food processing units to get fresh food and food products (such as honey) ready for market.

    Success will be a 20% increase in quality organic food available at market, and sold for a fair price.

    Aim 2

    Improve technology and processes for producing food for market - central to women’s enterprises.


    » Training 90 women across 3 municipalities in marketing strategies, developing packaging, communication & business skills.
    » Meetings with public and private organisations (eg schools, hospitals) to negotiate commercial contracts for the purchase of local organic food.

    Success will be
    - a 20% increase in quality organic food available at market
    - 90 women trained in food production processes & marketing skills
    - 7 food processing units set up

    Aim 3

    Increase income and food security for at least 700 families (2000 people).


    » Training farmers in sustainable agricultural techniques.
    » Training farmers in management skills to improve management of farming and production processes.
    » Setting up 7 food processing units to get fresh food and food products (such as honey) ready for market.
    » Setting up exchange visits between farmers to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experience.

    Success will be
    - 20% increase in organic food sold for a fair price at market
    - tax breaks for organic markets supplied by local people
    - commercial supply contracts secured

    Aim 4

    Promote environmental recuperation, management and preservation.


    » Work with farmers and producers to improve planning technniques.
    » Work with government bodies to facilitate greater participation by local communities in decision-making processes related to farming & markets
    » Strengthen the skills of 3 local NGOs in planning, monitoring, farming processes, and management of the natural environment.

    - local NGOs with stronger skills in environmental management
    - increase in number of native species being grown
    - increased community participation in public policies

  • Impact


    By strengthening organic farming practices and supporting family farming, we expect to see:
    - improved income & food security
    - recuperation of degraded land
    - enhanced biodiversity in the local environment.
    By improving the farming capacity and marketing skills of the most excluded communities, the project will contribute to poverty reduction and social cohesion in 21 communities in the Sertão.


    Drought or water shortage could cause problems on farming plots and kitchen gardens. Providing technical training on irrigation, and purchasing irrigation systems suitable for the semi-arid environment mitigates this risk.

    A lack of coordination between rural and urban communities will affect the achievement of the expected results. This is mitigated by providing exchange visits between urban and rural producers, and sound project management.


    We measure outcomes, results and impact against baseline data identified at the start of the project. Progress is monitored every 6 months, and there are internal and external evaluations at 20 and 34 months. We use all of this information to provide written reports to donors.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £722,436

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      Amount Heading Description
      £349,420 Human Resourcess Technical expertise, programme expertise
      £44,186 Travel Local in-country and international travel
      £92,717 Equipment 1 vehicle, 2 motorbikes, farming tools, irrigation units, food production unit, animal-rearing units
      £82,514 Evaluation and publications Mid-term and final evaluations, publications, translation, account audits
      £112,707 Training Training, communication, campaiging and educational materials
      £40,892 Administration costs Administration, management, monitoring, and reporting costs

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    European Commission £541,827 Guaranteed
    Souter Trust £1,000 Guaranteed
    Ted Baker £1,500 Conditional
    Rufford Maurice Laing £2,500 Guaranteed
    CWC Group Ltd £500 Guaranteed
    Hasluck Charitable Trust £1,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The project is located in 7 municipalities in Pernambuco State, North East Brazil. This semi-arid region is known as the Sertão. It's characterised by desertification, intensive farming, scarce water resources, and high temperatures. The UN Convention to Combat Desertification recognises this area as having high to severe environmental degradation.


    Rural people are frequently excluded from public policies, and denied access to resources and opportunities. The most excluded people are the focus of this project: women, young people, unemployed people, and Quilombolas (people of African descent).

    The project benefits:
    - 700 farming families (4000 people, including 2500 young people)
    - 350 school children
    - staff at 3 local agricultural NGOs
    - rural and urban consumers across 21 communities (291,177 people)

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have more than 30 years' experience of providing training and technical support to local organisations, community groups, national and municipal governments in Latin America, West Africa, and the Middle East. We combat poverty and oppression by strengthening civil society, and working with or lobbying government bodies. Responding to the needs of local people and organisations, and sharing skills and expertise makes the development sustainable - it doesn't end when the project does.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Luis Mattos (Field Director)

    Luis has more than 20 years' development experience, in particular experience in agronomy, enterprise development, and environmental management.

    Gerasmo Pono (International Volunteer)

    Gerasmo is an Agro-economist and Market Specialist. He has been placed as a technical specialist with AQCC, 1 of the project partners.

    Sonia Hammons (International Volunteer)

    Sonia is an Agro-economist and Market Specialist who has been placed with CECOR, a project partner working in three municipalities

    Natalia Patino Gotigrrel (International Volunteer)

    Natalia is an Agro-economist and Market Specialist who has been placed with CHAPADA, a project partner working in three municipalities.

Soil that is almost sand

Soil that is almost sand


will set up a small animal-rearing unit

When we plant beans we get these insects. Those who can afford it will buy pesticide. But we who can't afford it reap what is left by the insects.

Rita - project participant from the Conceicao community