Recife, Brazil

2023-09-28 15:09:27




  • Population size: 4,635,150
  • Population Growth Rate(%): 4,635,150
  • GINI Index: 0.67
  • Main Source of Prosperity: Services


COMPAZ is a network of community "peace" centres designed to promote citizenship, human rights and peace culture in the outskirts, poor neighbourhoods and slums of Recife, the capital city of Pernambuco/Brazil. The first unit was implemented in March 2016. Since then, three other centres have been also built from the ground up and launched in 2017, 2019 and 2020. Nowadays, 4 new centres are under construction. The initiative was also replicated in the state of Pará and the federal government decided to replicate the centres in national ambition, with another 40 units. Each centre is a compound who have sports facilities (semi-Olympic pool, soccer field, sports court, dojo), classroom, library, parks and playgrounds and several offices for municipal utilities. In the COMPAZ 12 municipal secretariats provide services in the most varied public policies, bringing citizens closer to the means for their social and economic emancipation.



The initiative composes a greater multilevel security plan launched by the Municipality of Recife in 2013 with COMPAZ as a symbol of a new moment in which inequality and violence prevention would become a priority. The Colombian inspiration named "social urbanism" is also key and a very regional lecture of the NUA. The doctrine declares that all inhabitants have the right to their city. This experience resulted in the creation of Law 18.850 which established that COMPAZ activities must spread across the territory and the whole city.



Recife is one of Brazil’s champions in the number of favelas. Inequality is high, mainly among those who live in the center and those who are on the outskirts, characterized by: hunger, poverty, diseases, unemployment, prostitution and domestic gender violence.


Favelas are also the location of drug trafficking centres for a mixture of people, from those who ended up in criminality to poor people who just try to survive without getting pulled into this “underworld”. In this context, the violence explodes, from 1990 to 2015 95.830 people were murdered.


With the launch of Recife's security plan in 2013, the municipality team started to format several policies for the social prevention of crime and violence, among them the Peace Centers. Recife, Pernambuco's capital city was an epicentre of a homicidal endemic situation of uncontrolled violence rates, among then robbery, kidnappings and so on becoming in the early 2000s the most violent capital of Brazil. From 2013 to the end of the construction of the first complex until its launch it took three years, by the end of this year the results have already shown up. The homicide rates were reduced from 64.5 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants to 35.6 in 2016 and 29.7 in 2019. Nowadays in the areas served by the centres, the indicators are always lower than in the rest of the city, for example in the first neighbourhood the reduction was 44,70% percent in 2020, and in the whole city was 36,55%. Similar average repeats in the following years.


There are many disruptive aspects involved in the formulation and implementation of the COMPAZ. Mainly because public policies in Brazil traditionally tend to be ineffective and fragmented, with low funding and without better planning shape. It took many hours of studies, trips to Colombia an exchange of knowledge and a huge number of professionals to design the COMPAZ initiative as a dynamic space, which evolves and is adaptable to the characteristics of the community where is going to be implemented.


Placing people at the centre of the process, as protagonists of the planning and later with activities carried out. COMPAZ's methodology aims to ensure that people are not mere passive recipients, but rather encourage them to participate in the day-to-day activities of this equipment, through educational, professional, cultural and sports activities.


Developing talents, awakening vocations, through a practical, interactive, essentially participatory method with different types of activities, and games, combining fun and learning, and through this, protecting them, helping the decreasing of violence rates and in the way promoting equality and human rights.


COMPAZ entails partnerships and actions from several government agencies, civil society and multilateral organizations. It is a compound in which different public policies and integrated services operate in an interdisciplinary and intersectoral way. Specifically, COMPAZ has various legal and violence prevention services developed in straight partnership with the State judicial branch, such as actions of extrajudicial practices (especially mediation); dissemination of restorative practices, including a space for welcoming ex-prisoners and juveniles; reception of women victims of violence for care; and their partners for awareness-raising and re-education actions).


Over the years, it has hosted debates promoted and involved the most diverse bodies of the justice and security system — such as the courses for People's Defenders promoted in partnership with the Public Defender's Office, in which community leaders are trained in issues related to human rights — to effectively guarantee the right of access to justice.


Multilateral organizations, on the other hand, have been operating primarily in actions and projects with a methodology based on intergenerational solidarity. With a clear focus on reducing inequalities, one of the social segments with the greatest impact on social transformation is actions aimed at Early Childhood, in which UNICEF and the Bernard Van Leer Foundation are great partners, among others such as UNHABITAT, UNODC, Private Foundations, Sports Associations and community level associations.


COMPAZ addresses a historic shortfall in Brazilian public governance, which is its usual institutional fragmentation, considering the offer of services and the implementation of policies, at all government levels. Also, security policies were traditionally geared towards the logic of repression, and with the implementation of the COMPAZ, they started to work on the logic of prevention. Instead of combating drug trafficking and violence solely with the police force, COMPAZ encompasses a crime prevention strategy, offering educational, cultural and sports activities designed to keep youngsters out of the streets and engage them in a protective environment at a brand-new all-in-one compound, built with high-quality materials and exquisite architecture. The various public services can also be reached by their parents, relatives and caregivers, strengthening family and community ties. At last, the initiative also addresses the fact that vulnerable communities need greater access to public services, another shortfall in public administration. The offer of integrated public services in specific territories is what allows the City Hall of Recife to reach the city’s poorest areas and populations. The results of the policy have encouraged the new Federal Government to announce its expansion to the whole country through the construction of 40 new units.



COMPAZ should be considered a revolutionary public policy. COMPAZ is an innovative initiative mainly because it promotes the integration of public services focused on the prevention of violence, through an intergenerational community dialogue methodology. It represents an outcome considering the historical lack of initiatives on the local municipal administration level addressed to public security since police force command is a constitutional responsibility of state governments in Brazil. The offer of integrated services in community equipment is another innovative aspect of the initiative, given the traditional institutional fragmentation that is characteristic of Brazilian public policy, which is generally brief and disconnected. In compliance with the provisions of Recife’s Plan for Urban Security, launched in 2013, the city’s most vulnerable territories were prospected and those with the highest rates of intentional lethal violent crimes and social inequalities were chosen to receive one COMPAZ. At the time of its implementation, 16 out of 94 neighbourhoods concentrated 45% of violent crimes. This type of evidence makes explicit the Management By Results (MBR) method, characteristic of the state's public security policy. After identifying the area of implementation, the Citizen Security Department’s team introduced the COMPASS project to residents and began the process of listening to the local population to identify which services and activities should be part of the initiative. Based on the information collected at the popular consultation, in 2014 the architectural team began the design of the complex, meeting high aesthetic and quality standards. The City Hall created a broad Committee with the participation of all its Departments, to develop the strategic, tactical and operational planning for the implementation of COMPAZ, as well as monitor the results monthly to ensure that the goals are accomplished. Due to its innovative character and the high costs that an initiative like this requires, the project was criticized for incorporating so many elements and quality standards in its construction and operation, since in the country services for the poorest population tend to be low-budget and made in partial way. This story has changed and much of what was seen as a positive and enthusiastic response from the beneficiary communities, as they are now seen by the public authorities, which resulted in another level of relationship between citizens and the municipal administration.



The key finding of the policy impact assessment was the correlation between COMPAZ unit locations and crime rates. At COMPAZ Ariano Suassuna a region with an intense daily flow of people, the monthly moving average of intentional violent and lethal crimes in the neighbourhoods with the most registered users in COMPAZ, revealed a decrease of -5.8% two years after the launch of the equipment, while in the rest of the city the same indicator remained stable. In COMPAZ Eduardo Campos on the outskirts and hills, the drop is even more expressive: -13.8% two years after the start of the equipment's operations. The decrease in crime rates is the direct impact of group targeting services to the young black citizens of Recife, nearly 1/4 of the over 60,000 COMPAZ registered users. With this in mind, the expansion strategy is considering the most vulnerable areas to define the location for the four new COMPAZ units, to be delivered in the heart of the communities with the highest crime rates in Recife. The government's territorial presence strategy in these areas contributes to the prevention of violence. But probably the greatest result is the adherence of the population, their feeling of belonging and care for the equipment, their effective participation in the activities offered and their constant search for increment in these actions and for more activities. This response began at the level of the communities served and today reverberates throughout the city, thanks to the media that are always publicizing the actions and results of the centres and spreading touching stories of people who overcame a personal/family history of violence, many with drug abuse prospect, and now are in studying in a job, healthy full of dreams.


The City Hall's strategic management is carried out by the Department of Planning, Management and Digital Transformation (SEPLAGTD), which also has a specific sector responsible for evaluating public policies. In the case of COMPAZ, the assessment is carried out for each installed unit, at intervals of 24 months, using impact indicators.


Among these indicators, the one that stands out is the monthly moving average of intentional violent and lethal crimes, calculated for 24 periods, weighted by the population. The City Hall of Recife is currently implementing a digital transformation strategy, materialized in the “Conecta Recife” app, a unique digital portal and single gateway for citizen communication and for the provision of integrated public services, with over 600,000 downloads now. The ways to download the app and how to use it are delivered in each COMPAZ, due to its capability to summarize the numbers of access and for being a direct channel between local administration and the citizen.


The success of the Peace Community Centers depends on the close connection with the community served and the socio-cultural radiography of the place where it operates. The choice of location for its implementation is guided by a database and statistics that indicate, by neighbourhood and region of the city, indicators of violence, vulnerability, education, employment and income, number of young people and children in the communities, women, elderly and, among other indices, impacts of the lack of opportunity, employment and income on people's lives. The worst-affected areas, most affected by violence, are the preferred candidates for priority in the deployment of equipment.

In Recife, the locations chosen for the eight units - four already implemented, one under construction and another three in the planning phase - are regions where a high degree of social vulnerability and violence has historically been recorded and are in 16 out of 94 neighbourhoods who concentrated 45% of violent crimes and among it other vulnerabilities rates.


Currently, the COMPAZ network serves 65.806 persons per month (reference August 2023), this number refers to the number of people who took a course or a sports activity or were assisted by the team of one of the 12 departments that work in the COMPAZ program, representing more than 20 public policies operating in the centres. In gender perspective, there are 45,95% men and 54,03% women. 22,11% are Children, 66,88% are Youth/young adults and 11,01% are elderly. 80% of the public is black, with low income and uneducated or with gaps in their education. The expectation with the extension of the network to four more complex the attendance will reach 135,780 per month. The future projection, with the increase of sports, education and cultural activities is an increase of 30% adding 29,974 users on a yearly basis. The expectation with the expansion of the network with four more units until 2024 is that this number (service) will reach 135,780 per month. The Brazilian youth is the one who kills the most and who dies the most. Young people (18 to 24 years old) have twice the unemployment rate of the general population, making them more likely to be co-opted by organized crime. Young people (18 to 29 years old) are also the ones who suffer most from police repression in the country, representing approximately 56% of the prison population, with this in mind the team who designed the initiative has youth as a focal point.



Goal 1: End poverty in all of its forms 

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries 

Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions for all