This work examines an infrastructure road project in the city of Fortaleza, Brazil, within the local context of a favela, Colônia. This road project, called Projeto Costa Oeste, has a dual purpose of development and increased transportation. This work draws on fieldwork in Fortaleza and a wide body of literature in developmental economics, political participation, transportation, road impacts and environmental impact. After outlining perceived and potential impacts, the author assesses Costa Oeste’s viability, desirability and effectiveness within the local context. The primary finding is that neighborhood residents are unlikely to realize the attendant rise in property values associated with Costa Oeste due to their insecure property rights regime. Therefore, the two primary recommendations are, first, a house registration drive in which residents take advantage of a Brazilian legal mechanism for registering a house that has been built in a favela such as Colônia. The second recommendation is for the consolidation of the numerous associations working for social change in the neighborhood, thereby focusing their efforts and amplifying their resources.
Wilson Korol has a Master's of Public Policy (MPP) and a Master's in Environmental Management (MEM) from Duke University. An avid traveler and adventurer, he has spent significant time in Brasil, as well as stints working and studying in Asia, Australia and Europe. He now lives in San Francisco with his lovely wife.