Promoting sustainable rural development in the economic, social and environmental dimensions is the goal of the Development and Integrated Growth Program 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 Impacts Evaluation conducted by JS/Brasil Consultoria that analyzed nine municipalities in the Southern Bahia Lowlands, the region where the Foundation operates: Piraí do Norte, Nilo Peçanha, Ibirapitanga, Presidente Tancredo Neves, Camamu, Taperoá, Igrapiúna, Ituberá and Valença.
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 Southern Bahia Lowlands. 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 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 Impacts evaluation’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.