The Social Mobilization and Community Participation Project was sponsored by the EICOS Program and the Rio de Janeiro State Government, as part of the Guanabara Bay Pollution Management Program, and largely funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, BID (IADB). The Guanabara Bay Pollution Management Program has implemented several water and sewage treatment works as well as environmental improvements, in order to gradually decontaminate this important environmental area and enhance the quality of life of Rio’s inhabitants.

The project which affected 163 neighborhoods from 7 municipalities, reaching an average population of 5 million inhabitants. To survey this area, the team employed 70 field researchers (10 for each municipality), another 10 researchers to provide technical and management support to the field work, plus senior researchers and an image lab team. The Social Mobilization and Community Participation Project established and coordinated by Professor Tania Barros Maciel used the approach of participative research as a tool to identify the main interests and aspirations of communities.

The main goals of the project were:

1. To raise the awareness of the population affected by the pollution management work, making them realize the importance of the project for the Bay’s environmental recovery, and involving the community in participative activities related to environmental issues.

2. To contribute to the implementation of environmental education policies in the State of Rio de Janeiro, in particular for communities.

3. To provide awareness-training and environmental workshops to help the creation of local Agendas 21.

At the end of the project, the population should be aware of the project’s importance in enhancing the quality of life, as well as the environmental improvements that will result from the recovery of the Bay. But, above all, they should become aware that the existing problems are intimately connected to their identification of their own needs and to a search for local answers. The main strategy employed was to establish partnerships with local leaders, identified through questionnaires and participative observation.

This project also had the participation of the EICOS Image Lab, in charge of recording the project’s memories and stages, as well as of producing visual documentation to illustrate several aspects of the work , such as small documentaries and visual reports. This video archives form now a valuable material stored at the Image Lab Database concerning environment, environmental education, community participation, community leadership and participative research.

We would like to highlight the following project undertakings:

1. Creation of workshops for the preparation of local development projects in partnership with local associations. These workshops generated a project contest;

2. Trainings and awareness-raising meetings with community leaders, conducted by a multidisciplinary team comprised by biologists, sanitation experts, environmental managers, sociologists, anthropologists and psycho-sociologists;

3. A questionnaire about quality of life, which intended to obtain data about the habits,, attitudes and life conditions of the populations involved in the project.

The Social Mobilization and Community Participation Project represented an excellent research field for the EICOS Program, as well as an example of interaction between researchers and members of the community. The bonds established between the research team and the population still exist and continue to generate significant partnerships.