This profile was prepared when Edinéa Alcântara was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2000.
The New Idea
Edinéa is integrating a strong social intervention component into planning and building public works and low-cost housing projects. She engages semi-skilled community members in the design and execution of the project, offering them job training and construction techniques using free recycled materials. Her bids are competitive with for-profit firms. Her products, furthermore, are not merely schools, community centers, or affordable homes, but rather a citizenship-building model for community members. They recognize the human and material resources which come directly from their neighborhood. They also gain a solid sense of ownership for the completed project, increasing the likelihood that it will last and be well cared for. Edinéa's combination of functional, aesthetically pleasing urban plans with job training creates a competitive choice for design-and-build projects that directly benefit the low-income communities where they are developed.