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Brazil Children Jumping

Christian Aid in Brazil

Christian Aid has been working in Brazil since the late 1970s to reduce inequality, fight for land and territorial rights, and foster gender, environmental and tax justice.

We work with grassroots partners, social movements, churches, faith-based organisations, networks and alliances to increase our impact in communities and improve advocacy work at local, national and international levels.

Brazil is a country with high levels of inequality and contradictions. Despite economic growth and its increasing profile on the world stage, Brazil remains one of the most unequal societies on earth, with the underlying realities of life often a world away from the government’s positive portrayal of progress.

18 million Brazilians are still living in abject poverty and 1% of the population holds 13% of the total income. 

Our report, The Real Brazil: The inequality behind the statistics (PDF), found that, despite advances, Brazil is not addressing structural inequality and is failing to unlock the potential for greater social progress. The highly unequal distribution of land and the lack of effective pro-poor public policies remain stark issues in need of urgent action. 

Our aims

Our vision is of an equitable Brazilian society where the rights of all citizens are fully achieved, ensuring that people thrive and live with dignity.

  1. To promote gender and climate justice for a more sustainable and equitable country.
  2. To develop alternative and resilient paths of development for those affected by poverty, gender and ethnic inequalities.
  3. We promote inclusive approaches to market engagement, ensuring environmental and energy sustainability and opportunities to thrive.
  4. To challenge the structures that perpetuate inequality by strengthening partners and alliances.
  5. Support engaged biblical and theological studies to influence faith communities and secular society for transformative and sustainable development.
  6. To support humanitarian response and advocacy with Brazil’s civil protection system.
The partnership with Christian Aid is not for just receiving, it is a two-way relationship with mutual learning.
Sandra Andrade
Anglican Service of Diakonia and Development coordinator

In Brazil we work on...

Inequality and gender justice

Entrenched fundamental differences in the power that individuals and groups are able to exercise over their own lives and prospects have far-reaching implications for life expectancy, the chances of receiving a decent education, and to access a secure place to live, employment and the benefits that brings. 

Some groups have been particularly excluded, such as women, LGBT+, indigenous people, black people and quilombolas (descendants of escaped slaves who fled to many different parts of Brazil).

We promote greater access to inclusive and sustainable markets for women, indigenous people, quilombolas and smallholders. We work to increase income, capacity, services and assets for these groups. This helps them to become resilient to disasters and thrive.

We promote gender equality and tackle gender-based violence, promoting women's rights and supporting their political participation from grassroots to international advocacy.

Inequality and land rights

Globally, Brazil has one of the most unequal patterns of land distribution. Just 3% of the population own more than two thirds of all arable land. This has trapped many rural workers, quilombolas, indigenous and riverside communities in poverty and exclusion and they become more vulnerable. This also has increased unplanned urbanisation.

Land and territorial rights are also an issue in the vast swathes of Brazil covered by the Amazon rainforest and savannah (the biggest ecosystems in Brazil). Studies have shown that where forest land titles are held collectively by indigenous or quilombola communities, deforestation stands at about 1%, as opposed to 20% in the rest of the Amazon. Yet the majority of communities do not hold these titles, and where they do, poverty and infrastructure projects to support big business continue to threaten forest-living people and their ability to protect their environment.

We work with organisations in the Amazon and agricultural areas to help poor people gain rights to land, either to protect the forest cultures and the communities of indigenous people and quilombolas, or to promote the more sustainable model of smallholder agriculture over agri-business.

Faith in action

Religion is a very important factor and strength in Brazil. We work with the ACT Alliance, churches and faith-based organisations.

Brazilian children going to school by boat

Domingos Printes, a quilombola leader, says 'without Christian Aid’s support of CPI, we would not have legs to walk this far'

Where we work and who we work with

We work with a diverse range of organisations in Brazil – from grassroots partners and churches to national and international alliances and institutional donors. We work alongside women, quilombolas, indigenous people, smallholders, social movements, churches and faith groups. Particular attention is given to the Amazon region.

Since establishing an office in Brazil in 2007, we have strengthened our partnerships, diversified funding sources and prioritised work that will achieve our vision of an equitable Brazilian society where the rights of all citizens are fully incorporated.

Key achievements

We proudly work alongside churches, faith-based organisations, social movements, networks, alliances and NGOs. We have a strong record in promoting and securing the economic, social, cultural and environmental rights of Brazilians. Examples include:

Inclusive markets development 

Our partner MST (Landless Workers’ Movement) works across Brazil with 350,000 families to secure land rights, improve resilience and influence local authorities in several public policies. With Christian Aid's support they transformed the COPPAT - rice cooperative - into Brazil and Latin America’s biggest producer of organic rice, producing 26,455 tonnes per year of organic rice.

In 2015, the cooperative agreed with the local government of São Paulo city to provide 1k tonnes of organic rice for school meals in a contract worth £626,000 annually. 

Tax justice and land rights

The programme’s joint effort with partner Pro-Indigenous Commission of São Paulo (CPI) achieved a huge tax victory in Brazil, with the exemption of Rural Land Tax (ITR) for the quilombolas communities. Thanks to free support from a local law office, the quilombolas were exempted from about £4 million.

This benefited more than 3.000 quilombola communities, approximately 1.17 million people in all around the country.

Preventing deforestation and striving for climate justice

Our partner, the Pro-Indigenous Commission of São Paulo (CPI), works with indigenous and quilombola communities, especially in the Amazon and Atlantic rainforests. We have supported quilombola groups to gain rights to the lands they have lived on for generations, defend their land from deforestation and degradation, and uphold their cultural rights.

Governance and democracy 

We work with our partner INESC on the 'Power to the People: making governance work for marginalised groups’ project (2011), funded by GTF-DFID. 

This project achieved deep change in 2014, when it led to a national public consultation about the need for political system reforms. It engaged more than 450 civil society organisations and there were 7,754,436 votes from all over the country. Approximately 97.5% of the voters said 'yes' to the proposal.  

Overcoming gender-based violence

In 2011, Christian Aid's partner - the Anglican Service of Diakonia and Development (SADD) - set up a safe house for women who were living with violence in the city of Ariquemes in the Amazon. So far the house has hosted about 450 women victims of domestic violence. This was the first safe house or service of its kind in the area.

Deacon Elineide Ferreira de Oliveira in her church in Ariquemes.

Deacon Elineide Ferreira de Oliveira in her church in Ariquemes. The 29-year-old reverend and co-ordinator of the Casa Noeli dos Santos safe house is on the frontline of the fight against gender-based violence in Brazil.

Reports and resources

Gair a gweithred

Mae’r oedfa hon yn canolbwyntio ar sut yr ysbrydolwyd y diwygwyr i herio cred ac ymarferion yr Eglwys trwy ail-ddehongli a chyfieithu’r Beibl.

Modern day slavery: A case study of Brazil

Download this case study about modern day slavery in Brazil where, despite having a national action plan to eradicate slave labour since 2003, huma

Christian Aid en América Latina y el Caribe estrategia (Spanish)

Hemos trabajado en América Latina y el Caribe por más de 30 años.

An inspired word

This service considers how, by reinterpreting the Bible, reformers were motivated to challenge the church’s beliefs and practices.

The real Brazil: inequality behind statistics - executive summary

Starkly illustrates how inequality continues to blight progress in a country with a GDP now higher than that of the UK - executive summary.

The real Brazil: the inequality behind the statistics

Starkly illustrates how inequality continues to blight progress in a country with a GDP now higher than that of the UK (2012).

Poverty over workshop

Guidance for teachers on running our sixth form workshop about poverty.

Poverty over presentation

A sixth form presentation looking at poverty and how it affects people around the world.

Contact us
Christian Aid's Brazil programme is based in São Paulo. We also draw on the expertise of other Christian Aid country teams across Latin America and the Caribbean, UK, Ireland and Spain, and networks and alliances in Brazil and at an international level.

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