Despite Porto Alegre's unique and inclusive system of public administration, the city still has a major social divide.
Though the very poorest have a say in the city's budgeting, there have been attempts to forcibly remove favela settlements in the city.
In 1989 Porto Alegre employed a novel way of administration. Participatory Budgeting allows members of all communities and suburbs in the city to have a say in the way the city's money is spent. In theory this should allow an equal voice from those in the poorest quarters of the city to those living in the richest, and in many cases this has worked with investment in sewerage and other services in areas that previously went without.
Whether this happens is debatable, as there have been attempts to forcibly remove favela settlements in the centre of the city.
Child labour a problem
It is estimated that 200,000 people live in shanty town developments called favelas where there is little or no basic infrastructure such as sewerage and fresh water supplies. Those living in the favelas face harsh social problems including high crime rates, discrimination from the middle classes, and little job security in the casual labour they do for a living.
Children often go to work, doing things like washing cars or selling merchandise on the streets, in order to support their families. Not going to school and being vulnerable to the dangers of city life this impacts on their opportunities as they go into adulthood.
What we do in Porto Alegre
SOS Children's Village Porto Alegre was our first programme in Brazil, arriving there in 1967. We have a social centre in the Village, and have SOS families which look after children unable to live with their parents.
Our social centre runs a family strengthening programme, designed to alleviate poverty and enable at risk children to remain with their parents. The social centre also runs a day-care centre for up to 700 children, allowing parents to go to work safe in the knowledge that their children are being cared for. We also provide support and training to as many as 765 adults to enable them to break out of the cycle of poverty.
SOS Children's Village Porto Alegre
In our Children's Village, several SOS families provide a loving home to children who are unable to live with their parents. Living with their brothers, sisters and SOS Mother, the children attend school in the local community, allowing them to develop and maintain social networks.
As children in our care grow up, so they need more independence so are offered shared, supported accommodation while they attend further education or vocational training. Qualified counsellors give support in making decisions in life as they emerge into adulthood.