Research team: Daniela Maimoni de Figueiredo, Selma de Souza Nunes & Janielly Carvalho Camargo
This innovative and engaged research project was developed during six months in a public school in the periphery of the Mato Grosso capital, Brazil (Várzea Grande city). It was applied the VESWH action-research method (Vegetation, Erosion, Solid Waste, Water and Housing) to develop a participatory socioenvironmental assessment in a catchment area where the school is located. This method was carried out in tree stages, with students and teachers of the high school of this school: i) Planning – project presentation to school teachers, assessment of students’ knowledge of the subject, class on basic concepts of basin with the themes of VESWH, recognition and mapping of the area, organization of working groups with each theme of the method; ii) Execution-field experiences, registration of the different aspects of the urban catchment area, interview with residents, collection of water samples, laboratory water analysis; iii) Integration – meeting with groups of each theme for presentation of results, data integration, results presentation at school and proposals submission. The students and teachers recognise the degrading environmental and sanitation situation and they understood the cause-effect relationships between this conditions where they live with the health and quality of life of the population. They also perceive the geographic context in which they live and the relationship between the catchment area and the Pantanal floodplain. Thereby, they elaborated several actions that they and the public power could execute to change these conditions. The method was satisfactory in achieving the objectives of Environmental Education as a cross-cutting theme in different areas at school (maths, sciences, languages, history and geography) and provided a critical perception in the students and teachers, through the multidimensional and interdisciplinary knowledge of the socio-environmental reality in which they are inserted, enabling the proposition of actions to change precarious urban conditions and degradation environmental and sanitation. There are also a significantly improvement in students performance and behaviour with this project. Currently, this work is being continued in the school, as part of the annual planning and some proposal were send to local government, specially regarding improvements in sanitation for the construction of a urban park.