Strengthening Institutions and Supporting Leadership

CASA works to strengthen democracy by increasing the voice and mobilization capacity of community groups and associations that work not only with mechanisms of political participation, but also with strategies that allow for critical influence, monitoring and some times questioning of public policies.  We support groups that propose and demonstrate the viability of alternatives to existing policies.


Empowering fishers in Miranda (Mato Grosso do Sul)

The project of institutional strengthening executed with the Miranda Artisan Fishers Association (Mato Grosso do Sul state) has enabled not only the expansion of the association headquarters, but also important networking. A partnership with the Regional Employment Council enabled the Association to be the first one in the state empowered to grant unemployment insurance. Starting in 2007, about a hundred fishermen and fisherwomen have also received insurance benefits directly from the Association during the closed fishing season. Its president, Liezé Xavier, participated in the development of public policies, discussions, and commissions in Mato Grosso do Sul. After the CASA Fund support and the development of projects, Liezé was invited to join the Pantanal Biosphere Reserve Advisory Board.

Strengthening capacities: the birth of new organizations, the survival of important projects, the result is the true involvement of people in the solutions of their own problems and more autonomy of their communities.


Madeira Alive in Rondônia

The CASA Fund saw the importance of an organization in Rondônia with above-average political and environmental reach, and for this reason we supported the creation of the Madeira Alive Institute (IMV). Today, the entity is a point of reference in the region, defending rivers and streams in the Amazonia. The Institute critically analyzes and calls into question the logic behind the development implemented in the region, putting forward better solutions based on technical knowledge and scientific studies.

The IMV keeps people informed and facilitates the involvement of local society in the discussion of issues that have a direct impact on their lives. In this way, they have been producing and broadcasting a radio show to forest communities throughout the Amazonia, keeping these remote populations informed about issues that affect them. The CASA Fund also supports this community service.

Institutional Strengthening: small investments generate great results.

Strengthening organizations on the Mato Grosso agricultural frontier

The purchase of a computer and other materials enabled the institutional strengthening of the Lucas do Rio Verde Environmental Organization (OLUMA), located in Lucas do Rio Verde (Mato Grosso state) – an agricultural frontier where agribusiness is pushing ahead at full throttle. The equipment acquired with CASA support is used to produce information and to warn the community about the serious threats they face.

The Organization raised awareness in the community through seminars that addressed the region’s social and environmental issues. Through networking, OLUMA established partnerships with research entities to participate in important investigations on the impact of pesticide use on the environment and human health.

Suape Forum: a criticism of an unsustainable development model

The Suape Forum results from a gathering promoted by civil society and social movements that brought together activists, organizations, socioenvironmental movements, students, researchers, people living in the Suape surroundings, and local, state-level, and national entities. All of them had the same purpose: critically analyze the development model adopted by the state to build the Suape Complex.

According to official data, over 60 billion reals were invested in the Complex in public and private funds. Research results showed that this amount of funding could have been better applied and distributed in decentralized projects, smaller and sustainable projects, involving a larger number of municipalities and people. The study also concluded that the attraction and incentive to install “dirty” industries in Suape was yet another error of the predatory developmentist proposal. As well, the employability of local labor turned out to be very limited.

The CASA Fund supported the Forum to defend and support traditional native populations living in areas adjacent to the Port and Industrial Complex against socioenvironmental injustices brought about by the installation of large projects in the region. The Forum also shared the information on the modus operandi of the expulsion of residents affected by the projects. This shed light on the environmental aggressions – including the deforestation of what is left of the Atlantic Forest, mangroves, restingas (coastal moist vegetation), and the poisoning of headwaters (streams and small rivers) that flow through the region.



Gradual consolidation to generate change: continuity, resulting from processes observed in the organizations and their communities, territories, biomes and ways of life.


The CASA Fund believes that building democracy requires, above all, consistency, patience, and solidarity. It is also based on the premise that there is no solution for the large South American biomes without full engagement of local populations, grassroots communities, and strong civil society organizations. Hence, it avoids supporting isolated and disconnected projects.

Over ten years, one can see many ongoing CASA Fund supported processes that consolidate true regional movements. Supporting networks, alliances, local, regional and national forums, as well as individual organizations within these collectives, has been the most efficient course of action for the CASA Socioenvironmental Fund.

These collectives and local groups obtain their first funds from the CASA Fund; over time, they are able to access other funding sources, as their actions achieve maturity and they acquire prestige, recognition, and representativeness. Some historical examples: FORMAD, FAOR, Carajás Forum, FBOMS, IMV, Xingu Alive Movement, Tapajós Alive Movement, Teles Pires Forum,  Kisêdjê Association Patagonia Without Dams Movement, and many others.

Communication and access to information: communicate, participate, preserve and develop.


Communication tools for isolated communities

Riverbank dwellers of the Serra do Amolar and Barra do São Lourenço Association, located in Pantanal, installed an antenna and radio communication equipment at the community school. This area is geographically isolated, with the nearest city 100 km away. The association can now make contact with the city, receive information on meetings, request support in emergencies, such as health issues and so on. Through increased networking, the Association was able to reach the Corumbá Education Council to demand the renovation of the local school. It had been closed down for eight months due to poor infrastructure, but the classes have now resumed. It also managed to obtain solar panels to power the school and keep communication channels open.

The Ipanema Neighborhood Community Radio Cultural Association, in Porto Alegre, received our support to organize ecocommunication workshops on Communication, Democracy, and Socioenvironmental Sustainability. This current project emerges as an alternative to the exclusionary logic of the mass media. The mass media’s unilateral coverage, if not entirely biased reporting, regarding themes of citizens’ rights, democracy in communication, and socioenvironmental sustainability is the main problem addressed by this project.

The Association promoted workshops on community radio; they involved producing reports, and editing and presenting radio shows, focused on socioenvironmental sustainability in local contexts. This enabled all participants, especially young people, to engage in a collective experience of cultural production, stimulating their protagonist role and their capacity to view the media critically. The Association also promoted environmental sustainability and helped to build a solidarity ethic, respect for human dignity, and opposition to violence.

Synergy and the mobilization of local, regional and national action: alliances and collective victories.

Mangue Mar Bahia Network

The CASA Fund support to the creation of the Mangue Mar Bahia Network and the institutional enhancement of the Arte Manha Cultural Movement, in Caravelas (Bahia state), expanded the reach of these organizations’ networking. They joined forces with other institutions of the SOS Abrolhos Coalition, which won a victory in the struggle to create the Cassurubá Extractivist Reserve (RESEX).

The Extractivist Reserve blocked the implementation of a shrimp farm in Caravelas, which would have caused a huge environmental impact on coastal populations and on sea life breeding zones, the mangrove areas.


Support for new networkers

The “4 Cantos do Mundo” in Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais state) and the Rio Grande do Sul Institute for Environmental Studies in Porto Alegre are examples of NGOs formed by young people receiving CASA Fund support. These institutions execute innovative projects and develop alternatives for the urban environment: the “Terra Viva Network” in the South and the movement “How to live well in the city” in Minas Gerais. In addition to their sustainable practices, these young activists play an important political role in forums, collectives, and socioenvironmental associations.