Brazil’s rapid development has made it an economic powerhouse of Latin America. However there are still imbalances in the country’s distribution of wealth. Caritas Australia is working with marginalised people to promote their involvement in community development, so that they improve their situation and break the cycle of poverty.

Participants of the MDF program in Sao Paolo.
Key facts:
  • Programs


  • Partners


  • Population


  • Extreme poverty

    Living on less than $1.25 a day:

  • Data sources 

Why do we work in Brazil?

Brazil is the fifth most populous country in the world. Over the past decade, the country has undergone strong economic growth, and at 2013 is the largest economy in Latin America. With an abundance of natural resources, much of its economic growth has been through agricultural, mining and manufacturing industries.

Yet not all people have benefited from Brazil's economic growth. Substantial income inequalities existing in the country. The poorest 10 percent of Brazil’s population earn just 0.8% of the country’s income (World Bank, 2009). One in seventeen people in Brazil live on less than $US1.25 a day.

Unequal wealth distribution and substantial urban migration has led to a growth in favelas (shantytowns) in the larger cities of Brazil. Drug trafficking and gang-related violence are major problem in these poorer areas. Favela residents – particularly young people – are often marginalised and experience discrimination from the wider community.

Our work in Brazil

Caritas Australia works with our local partner Movimento de Defesa do los Favelados (Movement for the defence of favela residents) in São Paulo. For more about the program, watch the video below from Project Compassion 2014.

Our work has a focus on promoting the dignity of each person and changing the culture of violence in the favelas. We also have an emphasis on skills training for people living in the favelas so that they can advocate for improvements in their situation.

Examples of our recent work

  • Young people from the favelas of São Paolo took part in training programs to counter community violence. They also learned skills to produce short documentaries to educate the wider society of the positive aspects of their lives in the favelas. Their productions have been aired on national television and radio. As a result, many of the youth report a change in their attitude towards violence, a discovery of self-worth, and pride in calling the favela home.
  • Community members have started a clean-up campaign in the favelas. As part of this, they educated the community on responsible disposal of waste materials, and cleaned up waterways and drains in the communities.

Featured project: