Promoting sustainable rural development in the economic, social and environmental dimensions is the goal of the Program for Development and Growth Integrated with Sustainability (PDCIS). Created in 2003, the initiative conceived and coordinated by the Odebrecht Foundation encourages the development of a generation of young people who are proactive and disseminate knowledge among their families and communities, with a view to supporting the development of rural cooperatives, the conservation of natural resources and citizenship.
In 2018, the institution was able to evaluate the results of the PDCIS’ activities with the Impact Assessment conducted by JS/Brasil Consultoria that analyzed nine municipalities in the Lowlands of Southern Bahia, the region where the foundation operates: Piraí do Norte, Nilo Peçanha, Ibirapitanga, Presidente Tancredo Neves, Camamu, Taperoá, Igrapiúna, Ituberá and Valença.
“Assessing impacts is a phase that produces knowledge on the actions being conducted and generates data for verifying the effectiveness of the path chosen and to support adjustments and corrections. The goal is to understand if the PDCIS produces real impacts on the youth, their families, their communities and the general public. Through a rigorous scientific study, we confirmed that these initiatives were able to generate financial, economic, social and environmental returns that go beyond mere indicators, which frequently only convey the efforts of the action," said Fabio Wanderley, superintendent of the Odebrecht Foundation.
The process took eight months to be concluded, during which 190 rural properties were visited and more than 300 interviews were conducted. The consulting firm adopted the Case-Control methodology, in which it compared two groups: the Case group, formed by PDCIS beneficiaries, and the Control group, formed by non-beneficiaries, but whose characteristics are similar to those of the other group. The results confirmed that the program generates significant wealth for the youth, their families and their communities in the Lowlands of Southern Bahia. In monetary terms, each R$1.00 invested in PDCIS generated a return of R$2.13 in benefits to society.
The assessment determined that the PDCIS’ internal rate of return is 57.8%: if there are no funds to invest in the program, the foundation could take out loans with development banks at up to this annual interest rate and still remain economically viable. The participation of youth in the PDCIS also has important impacts on their productive life: the unemployment rate among people benefited by the PDCIS is only 9.7%, while among the Control group this rate rises to 46.8%, and the average for Bahia state is 17.9%.
“The land teaches us a lot about life. Where I study, we learn everything about agriculture. The school adopts alternating education. We spend one week in school studying theory, then spend 15 days on our properties to put that knowledge into practice. Before, I wanted to move to the big city and work at a company. But when I realized that I already was working at a company, everything changed. My property is a company: you run the farm and feed people. That’s very important,” said Carolaine dos Santos, a young woman benefited by the PDCIS who lives in Camamu, Bahia.
Based on experiences such as Carolaine’s, we can affirm that young people supported by PDCIS are 113% better prepared to succeed in the job market than those who did not participate in the initiative, according to the impact assessment.
The PDCIS’ initiatives raised the level of environmental awareness among the farmers involved in the program. According to the survey, they are three times less likely to bury, discard or burn empty pesticide packaging and almost six times less likely to bury or burn household waste. Moreover, producers who use natural resources rationally obtained an annual return on average R$20,000 higher than the Control group.
The impact assessment’s results also indicated improvement gaps in the PDCIS. According to the study, the synergies among the institutions participating in the Program should be strengthened to support their integration. It also identified the need for improvements in the monitoring of the program’s graduates, in encouraging women leaders and in the economic inclusion of women in rural areas.
• PDCIS beneficiaries reduced by 65% their dependence on the federal government welfare program Bolsa Família.
• PDCIS beneficiaries increased their annual income on average by R$25,000, with this figure potentially reaching R$40,000 if the farmer is associated with a cooperative.
• Young beneficiaries become more confident in communicating and forming opinions, are less inclined to leave their properties, are more likely to help and share knowledge and participate more in social actions.
• Households benefited face fewer difficulties during the dry season (lack of drinking and cooking water) and in obtaining food, and they dispose of their sewage more correctly.
• Farmers supported by PDCIS are five times more likely than the Control group to keep their State Rural Property Registration up to date.
• The rural properties supported by PDCIS are three times less likely to adopt the practice of burning to clear fields and have on average 0.58 more natural springs than the properties of the control group.