Cities Alliance supported and, through our Regional Adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean Anaclaudia Rossbach, actively participated in a learning exchange between Brazil and Chile in Recife, Brazil 24-26 January. The exchange fostered lively discussion and learning on areas of common interest, including community-led development and women’s leadership.
The exchange builds on previous knowledge exchange activities supported by Cities Alliance in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region. In 2016, Cities Alliance funded the participation of women community leaders from Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru to attend activities celebrating Chile’s Mes del Barrio (Month of the Neighbourhood), which marked the 10th anniversary of Chile’s successful integrated slum upgrading initiative Quiero mi Barrio (Love my Neighbourhood).
Mes del Barrio activities included the 2016 Concurso de Buenas Prácticas en Barrios (Neighbourhood Good Practices Contest), which the Chilean Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (MINVU) has sponsored since 2008 to promote knowledge exchange among Latin American countries.
To continue the knowledge exchange between Brazil and Chile, Cities Alliance brought the winners of Chile’s Neighbourhood Good Practices Contest and representatives of the Chilean government to Recife in January to learn more about other neighbourhood improvement initiatives.
Bringing grassroots leaders together
The first day of the learning exchange was classroom-focused. Community leaders, researchers, representatives of NGOs and professionals from various spheres of the Chilean government gathered at Recife’s Marante Plaza Hotel to share their projects and discuss areas of common interest, including the importance of community organisation, women’s leadership in urban development, youth engagement, and the social inclusion of migrants.
“Participation is an ongoing process. Without participation, we can’t do any kind of project,” said Soledad Vidal of MINVU in her presentation.
Ediclea, of Grupo Espaço Mulher, highlighted the importance of partnerships in development, an approach that Cities Alliance has long supported. “Alone we don’t achieve anything. Partnerships help us make projects happen,” she noted.
The second and third days were spent out in the field, with visits to the communities of Ilha de Deus and Passarinho. Participants also visited the Júlia Santiago Metropolitan Women’s Centre, where they were joined by the Recife Women’s Secretary, Cida Pedrosa, and Silvia Cordeiro, the Women’s Secretary for the Pernambuco State Government.
The exchange ended with reflection of what participants had learned from the exchange, and what impacted them the most. It was clear that they found the exchange extremely useful, and feedback was uniformly positive.
The Chilean delegation was enthusiastic to learn more about women’s leadership in community-led initiatives and the linkages to social mobilisation and gender equality. Participants from Brazil, in turn, were impressed by the participatory approach to neighbourhood development in MINVU’s Quiero mi Barrio programme and its focus on including children as agents of change.
All were eager to continue the learning exchange. One professional working for the Chilean government in Punta Arenas suggested formalising the exchange and bringing Brazilian grassroots leaders to visit other communities in Chile. Additional evaluations of the exchange are underway.
The visit received good visibility, with a press release and coverage on both radio and social media. A video of the exchange is also currently under production. To see photos, videos, quotes and comments by participants, please visit the IntercambiosLAC pages on Facebook and Twitter.
The Brazil-Chile learning exchange is part of Cities Alliance’s gender activities in the region. It is also linked to an effort to build networks and enable an environment for knowledge exchange in LAC, one of the main pillars of the Cities Alliance Regional LAC Strategy. Cities Alliance has also supported other knowledge exchanges among grassroots leadership in LAC, notably between SDI, the Avina Foundation, and Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)
The exchange was organised by the Cities Alliance LAC Regional Office with support from Rede Interação, the Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) representative in Brazil. Participants included MINVU, Habitat for Humanity Brazil, Rede Interação, ActionAid Brazil, Grupo Espaço Mulher (Passarinho), Caranguejo Uça (Ilha de Deus), Núcleo de Estudos em Espaço e Gênero (NEG) – Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE), Casa da Mulher do Nordeste, Júlia Santiago Metropolitan Women’s Centre, the Recife Secretariat of Women, and the State Government of Pernambuco Secretariat of Women.