Caritas Brasileira – RS has been promoting since 2010 the recovery of water sources of family farmers through community volunteer work, involving families, schools, community leaders, policymakers, agricultural technicians and interested persons. This action consists in the cleaning, protection of bricks or tubes, coverage with tiles, isolation of the area (fences) and planting of native trees, prioritizing poor sources and that serve more families, aiming at better quality water.

The project provided the recovery or protection of 160 sources in family farming properties in 7 municipalities of Rio Grande do Sul. In 2013, it has was certified as Social Technology by the Banco do Brazil Foundation.


A - General information

START: February 2010 (in progress)

EXECUTING ENTITY: Cáritas Brasileira - Rio Grande do Sul Regional

PARTNERS: Cáritas Diocesan and parochial; Technical Assistance and Rural Extension Company – EMATER; Union of rural workers and Unions of family agriculture; Municipal and State schools in the municipalities where the Project is being deployed; Municipal administrations, through the Secretariats: Education, Agriculture, Works, Social Development – CRAS (Centre of reference on Social Assistance) Environment, Health; Universities near project regions: Universidade de Cruz Alta, Universidade Federal do Pampa – UNIPAMPA (São Gabriel), Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul – UFRGS; Churches and organizations that develop social actions in the territories

PRESENTED BY: Jacira Teresinha Dias Ruiz, Miele Ribeiro, Heloisa Azevedo e Orildo Carlos Basolli

RESOURCES: Third parties

VALUE RANGE: Up to U$ 5.000



KEYWORDS: Rural Planning; Maintenance and protection of water resources; Environmental Education; Native Forests; Permanent protection areas; Family Agriculture

TARGET AUDIENCE: Family farmers, rural workers ' unions, community leaders, municipal schools



Municipalities of the Vacaria Micro region: Paim Filho, Maximiliano de Almeida and São João da Urtiga;

Municipalities of the Cruz Alta Micro region: Salto do Jacuí, Jacuizinho and Estrela Velha; and

Municipalities of the Bagé Micro region: Santa Margarida do Sul


B - Descrição da prática



In 2010, when the project began, the State of Rio Grande do Sul faced a serious water crisis, exacerbated by constant droughts with economic losses and increased impoverishment of already vulnerable communities. Despite receiving few investments, family farming and small farms in the State are responsible for 70% of food production, requiring greater recognition and support.

According to the agricultural census of 2006 (IBGE, 2009) in the State of RS there is a total of 441.467 establishments, and of these, 85.75% (378.546 establishments) are in hands of family producers and only 14.25% (62.921 establishments) are not family producers.

However, the lack of water in several rural properties makes the production impossible, brings losses to families, leading to many of them to seek the city as an alternative. Most sources of water that were mapped in a pilot project in the municipality of Paim Filho, were abandoned without proper protection.



Contribute to conservation of natural resources and the sustainable development of family farming properties.

Specific goals:

- Implement the recovery of water sources as practical and pedagogical experiments on the properties of family farming;

- Encourage collective work processes through joint efforts as a way of multiplication of knowledge and social practices; and

- Planting native trees as a way of preserving local ecosystems.



To recover water sources we need to know the reality of the community and of the family farming property. Agricultural technicians, unions, farmers and social agents collaborate to identify the places and sources. After identification and diagnosis of the sources and with technical orientation, begins the recovery process.

From the participation of producers and family farmers, the following actions were carried out:

1- Task forces to clean the surroundings of the sources;

2- Construction of brick protection around the source, cover with tiles;

3- Fence for animal protection;

4- Planting of native trees and guidelines for maintaining them;

The approach process of the benefited took place from the proposal on identification of water resources survey in the community and in every family, with focus in water quality conditions and its use and consumption. From the adhesion and the information returned, the conditions and use of each resource identified were analyzed. Then the sources in a precarious state were selected, and with the technical support of the Rural Extension Technical Company -EMATER, interventions and more appropriate technologies to each situation were defined, with minimal intervention in the natural environment. All these steps involved partners, families and local communities.

In addition to the support from EMATER, churches contributed with infrastructure support and some with financial resources. Municipal governments joined with technical and machinery support when necessary, and Family Farming Unions with support for the survey of the situation of the sources and monitoring of recovery actions. Caritas of Rio Grande do Sul participated with financial contributions.

Tanks were proposed and built in community and family spaces, prioritizing schools as spaces to engage students in educational activities related to the environment, sustainability, reuse of water, among others. Workshops were developed to present the technology and, in the process of construction, communities, families and students became involved in form of joint effort.

The monitoring of these initiatives is made through visits of the project organizers, to see how the water from the tank and from the sources is being used, and guide on the care of the preservation of the same.



a- Recovery of 162 water sources in several rural properties;

b- 10 tanks installed and built;

c- Eight cleaning task forces, as well as with planting of native seedlings;

d- Recovery of memory about the forms of use of water of the ancestors;

e- Environmental awareness expanded primarily by the youth;

f- Environmental preservation, in particular water resources;

g- Access to quality water contributed to permanence of families in rural areas and food production;

h- Appreciation of water and environmental care as a strategy for sustainable development; and

i- Reduction in demand of government investments in tank trucks, rationalization of water, artesian well drilling.


The enlargement of towns for multiplication of this good practice in six municipalities, 3 in the Vacaria region (Paim Filho, Maximiliano de Almeida, São João da Urtiga), 3 in the Cruz Alta region (Salto do Jacuí, Jacuizinho, Estrela Velha) and 1 in the Bagé region (Santa Margarida da Sul), all predominantly rural.

Recovery of water sources, besides the construction of cisterns, also generated integration, strengthening of community bounds, local solidarity and sustainable solution for family agriculture, with low cost.

In 2013, the experience of Caritas RS was certified as a social technology by the Banco do Brazil Foundation.



Human resources:

- (1) technician for pedagogical coordination, monitoring and evaluation of the activities developed;

- (1) technician, local staff of the Diocesan Caritas, middle education, for field trips and tracking ' on the spot ' of activities and visits to family farming properties;

- Rural Extensionist - guide the recovery and preservation of water sources. Mason (counterpart of family-offer of the community knowledge)-build or retrieve water sources.


Material resources: Acquisition of seedlings of native trees for replanting the degraded areas and protection of the water sources surrounding, building material for the restoration/construction of water sources and cisterns.


Graphical material: 

Preparation and printing of brochures/leaflets for dissemination of activities;

02 cars; 

04 notebooks; 

03 GPS; and





The Pastoral Land Commission has replicated this technology with small farming families and the experience has awakened interest in other regionals of Caritas Brasileira. However, the concrete action and practical pedagogical observation of the results enabled the multiplication of knowledge and practices among people.

These joint efforts were the essence of the replicability of this social action, empowering results, replicating techniques and forms of work, especially in the area of environment protection.

Dialogues between different actors, workshops, lectures in schools to encourage youth participation, community multipliers, and information leaflets were also forms of transfer.



The recovery of the sources is a simple, effective action, in addition to providing greater food production, both for consumption and for trade, and sustainable development of small rural properties.

Consists of a practice of easy, low-cost replication, brings benefits to the families and to the ecosystem/biodiversity, and increases the income. Improvement in the quality of water on the property and the surrounding areas with an impact on food production and for the use of families, building partnerships and enhancement of popular practices with joint efforts, benefits for families and for the biodiversity and not only waiting for the actions of the Government or others.

Among the obstacles of the project, the main are the Government bureaucracy bringing delay and wear; -in some cases, there was lack of interest of the families benefited by the recovery of sources, to participate in the debate and training activities.


A visit to the practice is available at any time, with previous appointment. Yes. However, the preferred period is between March to December with prior schedule of at least 15 days.

Nº of visitors: Maximum number of visitors: 30.


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