Oswaldo Setti de Almeida Filho

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2004


This profile was prepared when Oswaldo Setti de Almeida Filho was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Oswaldo and his project Ao Moradia restore the non-physical attributes that bind communities and create a shared commitment among neighbors. He directly engages poor rural communities around the concrete aim of building homes and community centers. Oswaldo’s approach is a new model in community development that focuses on needs, innovation, and sustainability. Ao Moradia (literally, Action Dwelling) begins with an assessment of the community’s specific needs and responds with novel construction methods and a model that invites participation by community members. Oswaldo goes well beyond “a roof over one’s head”: his program looks at the broad spectrum of needs, capabilities, and potential of families and engages poor people—many of them single mothers—as key actors in improving their lives and communities.
Oswaldo sees great promise to spread his model by (1) encouraging its adoption by existing citizen organizations elsewhere, and (2) offering it to financial institutions as a low-cost alternative to building low-income houses. In this way, Oswaldo enables citizens and citizen-led organizations to bid for contracts formerly reserved for outside, private contractors. Volunteers who care about the result assume responsibility for construction, an approach which eliminates the cost of involving contractors and engages the community in reform from within.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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