Municipality of Dias D'Avila
This blog was originally published in December 2015 by Ariel Sim, a researcher for the Bolsa Familia Project. You can read more from her at her blog here.
Lesson: Success is often dependent on the personality of leadership. Shape and form even more so.
Dias D'Avila is a mid-sized city of 80,000 people, located 50km north of Salvador city. Over four times the size of Sapeaçu, it is nonetheless dwarfed by Salvador's 2.6 million inhabitants. In Dias D'Avila, 14,000 families are registered in the Cadastro Unico and 8,700 are enrolled in the Bolsa Familia Program. Estimating household size to be about 4 people, this means 43.5% of the population receives BFP conditional cash transfers and 70% of the population are part of the Cadastro Unico receiving benefits of some kind. These are rough guesses, but goes to show that Dias D'Avila - much like Sapeaçu - is a community that is very much touched by the social protection network in which Bolsa Familia falls.
First received by the Economic Development Advisor to the Secretary at the Mayor's Office of Dias D'Avila, we were accompanied to Dias D'Avila's Municipal Secretariat for Social Assistance (again, the headquarters of Bolsa Familia programming). There, we met with the Municipal Coordinator for Bolsa Familia and the Coordinator of the Cadastro Unico/President of the Municipal Council for Social Assistance. A truly welcoming and lively team.
Dias D'Avila is also making good use of mobile strategies to improve their reach into the community. (This means that 3/3 of the municipalities we visited are using mobile vans to boost their efforts.) Their mobile vans are fully equipped with computers, printers, talbes and chairs to take social service into the community. Among other initiatives around health and education, the vans go to the countryside to register people to the Cadastro Unico and the Bolsa Familia Program. They estimate that for every trip, approximately 20-30 information sessions occur where people either update information on their existing accounts or become new registrants.
We also saw that not all of the state efforts are fully serving at the municipal level. The network of managers is not particularly active in this area, perhaps due to high turnover of officials, state absenteeism or information privacy concerns. However, it doesn't seem to have particularly negative effects on the program. Here in Dias D'Avila, there is a strong line of communication straight to the State offices, and the branch manager of the Caixa bank is available to answer questions about their information system.
The most prevalent traditional populations are gipsies, terreiros and landless movement. Here, it seems that Dias D'Avila is rightfully proud of their integration. With one terreiro representative on the Municipal Council for Social Assistance for the past two years and a high enrollment rate among members of these groups.
We enjoyed our day in Dias D'Avila and thank our friends there for welcoming us into their community. As our last municipal visit in Bahia, it was a great wrap to our field work. Tomorrow, we head to São Paulo to present our findings to the the University of São Paulo and the Canadian Consulate. We hope that we'll get good conversations going about what we've learned and potentially how Canada can apply some Bolsa Familia concepts back at home.
Photo Credit: A Sim