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Input for development

Universities, public sector and NGOs develop projects for solving social problems

eduardo cesarMapping of areas of ecological interest has identified conservation units for sustainable useeduardo cesar

Between 1997 and 2002, the payments of the Municipal Real Estate Tax (IPTU in the Portuguese acronym) and of the Services Tax (ISS), in São João da Boa Vista, in the interior of São Paulo, grew 110%. In 2003, the accounts recorded a surplus of R$ 1.2 million, and the city hall was able to settle its debts with suppliers. “With the increase in the revenue, it was possible to expand investments in the areas of health and education”, says Vanderlei Borges de Carvalho, the director of the municipality’s Finance Department. “This year, we are also going to close with our accounts in balance”, he foresees. The improvement in the fiscal performance did not imply an increase in the value of the taxes for the citizens.

It was a result of the modernization and computerization of tax management implemented by means of a successful partnership between the city hall of São João da Boa Vista, the Uniemp Institute, the Managerial Development Foundation and the Dinheiro Vivo Agency, with the support of FAPESP, in the ambit of the Public Policies Research Program. The Municipal Tax Management and Accompaniment of the Budgetary Performance project, started in 1998, has been fully implanted, and the accounts of the city hall are now available on the Internet, accessible to any citizen, in accordance with the requirements of the Fiscal Responsibility Law. “On the city hall’s website, all the spending is detailed, from the consumption of coffee to the quantity of tires consumed by any area of the administration”, is the example given by Borges de Carvalho.

Strategic partnerships
The Public Policies Research Program is part of the strategy adopted by FAPESP, from 1995 onwards, which had the target of establishing partnerships between universities and research institutes, on the one hand, and bodies from the public sector and the third sector, on the other, in search of solutions for concrete problems that impair the daily life of the citizens or snarl up good administrative management. The 221 projects approved are being carried out by researchers, together with 106 city halls, 133 state or municipal secretariats, and involve 26 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

The projects of the Public Policies Program project are carried and out and implemented in three stages. In the first stage, with a duration of six months, the partners carry out feasibility studies and start the researches relying on resources of up to R$ 50,000.  The proposals are then submitted to a further assessment before arriving at stage 2, the carrying out of the project, financed with as much as R$ 300,000 from FAPESP. The third stage, the implementation of the project’s proposals, is the exclusive responsibility of the partner bodies and entities. The Fire Department of the State of São Paulo Military Police, for example, is constructing a software for implanting the Operational Data System (SDO) developed in partnership with the Technological Research Institute (IPT), with funds from the program.

Started in 2001, the project had the objective of improving the system for collecting information at the Fire Communications Center and at the Fire Station. The first receives the emergency calls, and the second responds to the emergencies in its area of jurisdiction. The new system will make it possible to give a qualitative treatment to the statistics and will create policies for firefighters’ activities all over the state. The firefighters started using an electronic system for tabulating data in 1992, to produce quantitative operational information on dealing with over 500,000 occurrences. This system, though, showed several limitations, such as an inadequate structure for the data in tables and fields, and even about the victim.

“The calls directed to the emergency center by the 193 number would be keyed in, but they would remain at the center, without any connection with the network”, recalls Rosário Ono, of the IPT at the time, the coordinator of the project. “Furthermore, a good part of the system was not computerized.” The project assessed the way the data is collected, structured reports that make more detailed analyses, and architected a new pilot system for tabulating data that was installed in the 8th Group of Firemen, in Santo André.  The program, though, as it used a data communication network via radio waves, did not permit the expansion of the model to other regions of the state of São Paulo. The new application that is being developed by the firemen is going to use Internet infrastructure of the São Paulo government, and it should be implanted, and functioning, in January 2005.

Health of the family
Eighty four projects of the Public Policy program have now been concluded and at the stage of implementation. The proposals incorporated by the partners have provided backing for actions to be carried out in various areas of management, particularly in the health area, which was the object of diagnosis of 52 projects. In Campinas, for example, a pilot project developed by the School of Medical Sciences of the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), along r with the Municipal Secretariat for Social Service, is building a methodology to expand the activity of the family health agents, who have been a powerful instrument for combating diseases in poor regions.

A group of 300 agents who work on the outskirts of the city was trained to do more than monitor the vaccination card and the medication of the chronically sick, or accompany the movement in the indicators of health in the population. They have been prepared to interfere in the harsh social reality of the region, like its violence, the use of drugs, and pregnancy in adolescence.  “Our work is interdisciplinary”, explains the project’s coordinator, Carlos Roberto Silveira Correa. “It’s not enough to diagnose and to treat people. You have to invent and propose actions that improve health and the quality of life.” In the Santa Mônica district, a group of diabetics coordinated by a health agent meets to swap information on recipes for food that is sugar-free, but tasty and cheap, to live better with the disease. The group has one rule: no doctor enters there. “If there were a doctor inside there, he would give us a scolding and apply food restrictions”, says Correa. “In our paradigm, there is room for solutions from the very people involved.”

The traditional tools do not always work either in facing pregnancy in adolescence. “I was disconcerted the first time I attended to an adolescent and she said that her problem was that she was unable to get pregnant. For some girls, having a child guarantees a different status, which they pursue”, explains Correa. The program started in 1999. At the time, the Campinas city hall was not interested in creating a family heath program, and the Faculty of Medical Sciences asked for authorization for it to carry out, by itself, a pilot program.  With the support of FAPESP, the first 25 social agents were trained, selected from among the inhabitants of the districts. In 2000, with the change of mayor, the municipality took over the program, and the original group created an NGO, baptized as Ipês, which then coordinated the project under an agreement with the city hall. “Our mission is to influence the public policy, not to become a rival of the government”, Correa stresses.

Problems related to education are also prominent and are the object of study in 21 projects. In São Carlos, a group of professors from the Teaching Methodology Department of the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) and from the Architecture and Urbanism Department of the São Carlos Engineering School  – USP has been carrying out research and projects in the area of children’s education, in partnership with the Municipal Secretariat for Education and Culture. The Diagnosis of São Carlos Municipal Day Care Center project, concluded in mid-2004, fulfilled all the expectations, both of the researchers and of the local authority: São Carlos today has a database that is without precedent in the country, which reveals the profile of 1,106 children attended to in the day nurseries and is capable of separating the data according to gender, income, race and region, amongst others.

“The lack of information about children’s education is a problem in almost all Brazilian cities”, says the coordinator of the project, Anete Abramowicz, a professor at the Teaching Methodology Department of UFSCar. The database also brings together other data, such as the profile of the teachers and staff at the day nurseries, the physical conditions of the buildings, and the public not attended to by them (by collating with data from the IBGE – The Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics). A computer program was developed for the project, using a free software platform, which is now being used by other cities. By means of the software, the managers of the day nurseries carried out the registration of the children on-line, and the information supplied was fed into the database. “The diagnosis is an indispensable instrument for outlining public policies, to know where more day nurseries have to be offered, and in what way they are serving their public”, says the specialist in teaching methodology.

Action against flooding
The Public Policies Research Program has guaranteed that the knowledge generated in the research sector points out structural solutions for problems that impair the citizen’s quality of life, as is the case, for example, of floods, the focus of the Municipality of Guarulhos’s project Technical Support for the Master Plan for Drainage. The city removes a good part of the water that it consumes from underground aquifers, which are now showing signs of depletion. Cumbica Airport, for example, is totally supplied by means of artesian wells. This strategy, though, will not be sustainable for supplying the new passenger terminal that will be built in the next few years. The only way out will be to create a water reuse system, since the water tables are not being properly replenished, because the city is impermeable. The result is that, when it rains, the water runs over the pavement and causes flooding. To aggravate the problem, the clay soil of the region also contributes towards making the absorption of the water difficult.

The solution conceived by Hélio Nóbile Diniz, a researcher from the Geological Institute, a body of the State of São Paulo’s Secretariat for the Environment and the coordinator of the project, which will be tested in the second stage of the project, is to capture the rainwater and inject it into the subsoil at a depth of 100 meters, close to the aquifers, abbreviating the process of filtering through the ground. The idea is a polemical one. In theory, it involves a risk of contaminating the water of the subsoil. “We intend to do a controlled experiment, with the construction of two wells, one for injecting water into the aquifer, the other to take the water out and control its quality”, says Nóbile Diniz.

In the first stage of the project, tests of infiltration and methods for diagnosing the permeability of the soil. Should the strategy prove to be unfeasible, the city administration of Guarulhos, a partner in the project, is considering proposing changes to the city’s Master Plan. One possibility is to require that new real estate developments and also large industrial warehouses construct infiltration wells, for injecting the water captured from the rain. “Some of these warehouses have enormous roofs, which drain the water off to the surface and help to cause floods”, explains geologist Edilson Pissato, from Guarulhos’s Secretariat for the Environment.

The problem of the water supply was also the theme of the project called System for Diagnosing and Assessing Projects Carried Out by Municipalities, State Bodies and Civil Society Associations in the Committee of the Upper Tietê Water Basin. It was implemented by the Upper Tietê Basin Committee – a collective body made up of specialists, representatives of the government and of the civil society – in partnership with Unicamp, in the ambit of the Public Policies Program.

The project had two strands. On the one hand, an instrument was constructed for assessing the projects submitted to the Upper Tietê Basin Committee. The basin committees have at their disposal a fund for financing, and they have the task of defining the projects to be supported. The projects that are accredited to apply for these funds are those that deal with problems like the construction of sewage treatment plants, or the relocation of urban concentrations in regions of water sources, amongst others. The challenge for the group of researchers was to find a methodology capable of assessing properly the best projects to be financed.

To construct this instrument, which has just become ready, it was fundamental to implant the second strand of the project: the qualification courses for the representatives of the Upper Tietê Committee and those of the regional associates from Billings, Tietê Headwaters, Pinheiros/Pirapora, Cantareira and Cotia and Guarapiranga, besides university students of scientific initiation and for a master’s degree. Since the 1990’s, the water basin committees have been responsible for the decisions about projects and policies involving water supply and treatment. The São Paulo Metropolitan Region lies in the jurisdiction of the Upper Tietê Committee. The absence of coordination between its members and the complexity of the basin’s problems was threatening the major purpose of the committee, which is to lead to a transformation in the management of water, preventing the deterioration of the water sources and attacking the drains of waste, instead of continuing to invest billions in the capture of water.

By bringing together the representatives on the qualification courses, those responsible for the project were able to get to know the dynamics of the committees and subcommittees, a fundamental condition for constructing the methodology for assessing the projects. At the same time, they had the chance to make the students  sensitive to the complexity of their task. Divided into three modules, the courses were given between 2001 and 2004 and involved 400 persons. “The target of the first module was to give the representatives a reality shock”, says Ricardo Toledo Neder, currently a professor at the Environmental Studies Center of the São Paulo State University (Unesp), in Rio Claro, who coordinated the project. What is understood by reality shock is the setting out of the reasons at the root of the problem of water in the state: until recently, the lack of water was resolved by increasing its capture, as if there were no limit of water or of money. The State Law on Water Resources, of 1991, proposed the inversion of this logic: instead of expanding demand more and more, the solution lies in combating waste and laying down the protection of the water sources.

The second module of the project sought to link the management of water with the management of the urban ground, since one of the most dramatic factors of the deterioration of the water sources is the building of irregular dwellings in areas of environmental protection. The third module discussed the importance of the associative capacity for thinking out solutions, independently of the initiatives and ideas of the local authorities. “We have advanced a lot in our knowledge of how the forms of social representation in corporate bodies like the basin committees meet obstacles to acting in a coordinated way”, Neder explains.

X-ray of crime
The treatment of statistical data has also made it possible to outline the profile of the criminals of the state of São Paulo. The project Constructing a Model of Integrated Analysis of Information, carried out in a partnership by the State Data Analysis System Foundation (Seade) and the Secretariat for Public Security, started in 1999 and was concluded last year. It resulted in the construction of the Integrated System of Criminal Information, available on Seade’s website, which brings together almost 20 million criminal records, registered between 1981 and 2002, and is part of an X-ray of São Paulo’s criminal justice, with information about the average time of the cases, from the opening of the inquiry and the carrying out of the sentence. The data for 2003 are being prepared and should be available in 2005.

The figures collected were organized into four categories: gender, schooling, civil state and race.  Its analysis brings revealing information. One example: in spite of the majority of police inquiries involving white suspects, blacks  are proportionally arrested more. This difference may be attributed to the better level of schooling and income of the whites, which may guarantee them easier access to the defense mechanisms, and to the discriminatory nature of the judicial system, since a good part of the cases of violent crimes is submitted to a jury of the people, as Luiz Henrique Proença Soares stated, who was the general coordinator of the study. (see Pesquisa FAPESP No. 69). Besides creating a methodology for analyzing the data from the Secretariat for Public Security, the system permits the monitoring of information previously restricted to technical personnel, stresses Renato Sérgio de Lima, the technical coordinator of the project. “The Secretariat for Public Security is the main user of this information”, he says.

Preservation of memory
The resources of Public Policies also made it possible to organize the public archives and to recover the historical and archeological heritage in municipalities of São Paulo. Despite the legal obligation (Law 8159/91), only 17 cities of the state of São Paulo have organized permanent archives for the preservation of documents. Two of them – São José dos Campos and Itatiba – did so with funds from FAPESP. A result of a partnership between the Brazilian Analysis and Planning Center (Cebrap) and the National Forum of Managers of Municipal Archies (Forumdam), the project Management of Documents, Institutionalization and Implantation of Municipal in the State of São Paulo began in 2000 and was concluded this year.

São José dos Campos already had an archive, but in Itatiba the project started from scratch.  In both cases, the participation of the secretariats for Culture, Administration and Legal Affairs was fundamental, recalls Pedro Puntoni, the coordinator of the project. The researchers worked with a methodology that makes it possible to integrate the already existing collection of documents with the production of current documents and that includes a table for retention times.  “We established, for example, the period in which a document requesting a tree to be pruned should be kept, before being destroyed”, he mentions as an example. At least one version of each document has to be kept for posterity, he adds.

The researchers also drew up a manual, with all the steps necessary for the installation of a municipal public archive, in accordance with the requirements of the law, and that can easily be followed by other municipal administrations. “We are now working with the municipality of Paracatu, in Minas Gerais, and negotiating the implantation of a similar project in the city of Campinas. In São José dos Campos, the archives, duly reorganized, are held at the Cassiano Ricardo Foundation. “In Itatiba, we managed to convince the mayor to rent a historical house, from the beginning of the 20th century, which FAPESP helped to equip”, Puntoni explains. The project included the development of software and even websites for the two municipalities, with part of the archives already digitalized. “The websites are ready to be made available on the Internet.”

In São Caetano do Sul, a project carried out by the Archeology and Ethnology Museum (MAE) of the University of São Paulo (USP), in partnership with the Pro-Memory Foundation, of the municipal government, collaborated with the preservation of the city’s historical legacy. “The material had to be organized for the museum to have a notion of its collection and to permit the organization of other projects”, explains Maria Cristina Oliveira Bruno, a researcher from MAE and the coordinator of the project. The result was the organization of the archeological collection of the Municipal Museum, which brings together pieces from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, the preparation of a book with the cataloging of the material, and the drawing up of a project for expanding and publicizing this collection.

Protected areas
The mapping of the areas of relevant ecological interest in the state of São Paulo was also sponsored by the Public Policies Program. In the project, carried out by USP’s Biosciences Institute in partnership with the Forestry Foundation, an ample survey was done of specially protected public and private areas, with the objective of defining parameters for environmental management. The idea is that part of these areas could be opened to the public for sustainable commercial exploitation, such as ecotourism, for example. “At the moment, it is impossible to do this without getting tangled up in red tape”, says Paulo Nogueira Neto, the coordinator of the project.

After reviewing the legal instruments related to environmental handling and listing the areas connected to each one of the categories of protection, there was a selection of the fragments of ecosystems that were assessed from the point of view of environmental conservation and classified according to the degree of vulnerability. Some were regarded as conservation units for sustainable use, whose protection does not require expropriation. At this moment, the Secretariat for the Environment is studying the publication of a decree that will authorize the building of ecological lodges and the commercial use of these areas. “The owner will be able to use this area for the purpose of profit”, Nogueira Neto discloses.