A Laboratory for Impact and Innovation

Fundación AVINA has people on the ground in thirteen Latin American countries. This local presence is essential for developing our strategy for relevant change in the region. In each country we have a country liaison and team dedicated to the country impact strategy. Their work is vital to maintaining relationships of trust with thousands of leaders and organizations while allowing AVINA to identify high-potential pilot initiatives and innovations. In this laboratory of creativity, we seek to test, validate and develop new opportunities that can be replicated and scaled up to opportunities for national or regional impact.


Reconstruction in Chile after the 2010 earthquake

Our commitment to local action in Latin American countries took center stage on February 27, 2010, when an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale followed by a tsunami, caused 521 deaths in five regions and 26 communities of Chile with damages estimated at USD 30 billion. The whole world was shocked at the destruction and suffering. AVINA and its network of allies in the affected area acted promptly to respond to the tragedy.



During the week following the disaster, AVINA’s local team, in collaboration with a group of Chilean organizations, worked quickly to define the appropriate course of action. One result was the Reconstruction Consortium for Emergency Housing, which brought together three foundations (AVINA, Proyecto Propio and Superación de la Pobreza), two businesses (Masisa and Onduline) and the International Immigration Organization of the United Nations. In the six months that followed, this coalition built 1,474 emergency housing units at a cost of USD 2.8 million through an innovative model that opted for local labor and materials to maximize the project’s economic impact on fifteen affected communities. The consortium also collaborated with other initiatives and organizations to promote economic activity, job creation and community empowerment in the region. In all, thirteen consortiums linked to AVINA developed actions in the disaster area using different approaches to respond to the emergency and contribute to the reconstruction process.


Here are some of the outcomes of the collaboration between AVINA and its Chilean allies.

(PDF in Spanish only)


Some achievements of our allies relating to national strategies in 2010

Multi-sector platform achieves solar thermal law in Uruguay

The enactment of Law 18.585, which declares research and development of solar thermal energy and associated training to be in the national interest, is largely the result of the work and influence of Mesa Solar. Mesa Solar, which brings together public, private and civilian sectors to promote solar energy, was able to form a Solar Energy Association in Uruguay, create seven UNIT-ISO standards and train 227 technicians (architects, engineers and others) at mid-level educational institutions. AVINA provided financial support and assistance for two years to the organization Ceuta, which operates the secretariat of the Mesa Solar coalition. AVINA, in partnership with UNESCO, is encouraging the replication of the Mesa Solar experience in other countries and promoting Mesa Solar’s Integrated Solar Program in Uruguay.


A sustainable city project’s innovative approach transforms one of Brazil’s worst corners of poverty

Awarded several times for its innovative management approach, the Araçuaí, Cidade Sustentável project is celebrating its fifth year. During that time it has demonstrated the value of its philosophy of working with the “luminous side“of people, communities and organizations. Using popular education and a systemic approach as tools for transformation, it has succeeded in improving conditions for a region known for extreme poverty and adverse environmental conditions. The results are encouraging: the production of dozens of new educational technologies, hundreds of families with better nutrition, thousands of trees planted and millions of gallons of water stored through solutions drawn from permaculture and agro-ecology. The experience already represents an internationally recognized model of how small towns with little economic dynamism in poor regions can be transformed by focusing on their IPDH (Index of Development Potential)—defined as the ability of people to transform their community. AVINA was a contributor to this initiative from the design stage. The activities coordinated by Tião Rocha of the CPCD (Centro Popular de Cultura e Desenvolvimento) benefitted from AVINA’s support for its allies who contributed various skills and technologies and for the implementation phase.


Chile declares the Salar del Huasco a National Park

This humid highland of the Atacama Desert was threatened by the expansion of mining operations, which intended to use the area’s aquifer beyond its recharge capacity, according to local environmental organizations and expert consultants. AVINA provided support for community involvement, in addition to financing the advisory services of a hydrogeologist, who prepared reports containing important technical and scientific data that proved essential to dialogues with the mining company involved.


Brazil passes a law to prevent the election of candidates with a criminal record

On June 4, 2010, President Lula da Silva, of Brazil, signed Law 135/2010 (known as “Ficha Limpa,” or the “Clean Record Act”), which stipulates that people with criminal records may not be candidates for public office in that country for eight years. The law was applied during the 2010 elections. Since 2008, AVINA has supported its partner Francisco Whitaker (one of the coordinators of the Clean Record campaign) in his efforts to mobilize support for the approval of the popular referendum led by the Movimento de Combate à Corrupção Eleitoral (Movement to Combat Electoral Corruption). That movement collected 1.6 million voter signatures and 2 million votes of support by Internet. In addition to providing funding for the Clean Record Campaign and website (fichalimpa.org.br), AVINA worked with dozens of other institutions in the signature-collection process and in seeking support from allied organizations.


Chilean government moves to regulate questionable financial and banking practices

Consumers International and the Organization of Consumers and Users of Chile, both allied with AVINA, helped to put questionable practices of the financial industry on Chile’s national agenda. AVINA supported comparative studies, the dissemination of findings and related activities. As a result, in September 2010, the National Consumer Service (SERNAC) as well as the Superintendence of Banks and Financial Institutions began to regulate a series of financial products and practices in order to improve financial and banking services. AVINA brought its vision and strategy to the table and provided resources for the development of a joint initiative that promoted collaboration among a number of partner institutions. Follow this link to a guide in Spanish published by Consumers International.