Sample Paper on Social Return on Investment_ PIEC Case Study

Executive Summary

            The Social Return on Investment seeks to establish the entire PEIC program. It looks at the origin of the concept and how it came to being and the problem of the immigrants from the countryside that came to the city, but due to the fact that they could not afford housing in the mainstream housing arrangement of the city, they developed their own cheaper and affordable housing units by the roadside. With time, the population has continued to grow, and with it, the expansion of the informal settlement to the extent that road expansion and development has stalled. In a bid to alleviate this problem, the scope of the study has explained the extent to which the program will cover to get rid of the problem by moving the informal settlers to better housing and improving their standards of living. The stakeholders of the project have also been discussed in detail including the beneficiaries, contributors, administrators, and bystanders, including the benefits they are likely to gain from the project. The resources to be used for the implementation and completion of the project have been discussed in detail and they include time, economic resources, and all the staff that is required to carry the project on to completion. The project is aimed at assisting the community currently and in the future, and the value of the investment currently and in the future has been discussed. Finally, the viability of the project has been discussed in the conclusion segment of the report, while shortcomings and methods of curbing them in similar future projects have been brought out in the recommendations section (

Defining the Objective and Scope of the SROI

The PIEC program began in 2002 in Porto Alegre and is targeted at improving the livelihoods of families whose monthly income is between zero and the minimum wage. These families live in some 20 informal settlements under rather precarious conditions. The families who have settled in these places have come from the countryside, and lack the means to afford a more decent kind of accommodation in the mainstream areas of housing. Because of the unplanned settlements, the area lacks urban infrastructure that is necessary to support the normal living conditions of human beings. Things such as sanitation, drainage, and water supply, not to mention garbage management are some of the challenges that the inhabitants are faced with on a day-to-day basis. As is common with economically and socially deprived communities, there is a great struggle to survive and this has heightened the crime level in terms of assault, drug abuse, and trafficking, robbery, and even murder. The unplanned settlements, in addition to causing social problems above have also occupied space that has been set aside for government projects like the creation of new roads and the expansion of the existing ones (

Owing to the issues described, the City Council came up with the City Entrance Integrated Program (PIEC) in a bid to redevelop the area by improving the connections with the city and providing environmental recovery for the area. In conjunction with these, the inhabitants of the informal settlement will be relocated to improved and safer living quarters where they will become part of the formal society. The city however also recognizes the need to assist the poor communities to assimilate with the rest of the residents that they will be living with. For this, there was a need to help them alleviate their situation, in this case economically and socially, and the measures that were developed to take care of this include:

  • Urban infrastructure including adequate sewers
  • Landscaping
  • Community activity space
  • Income-generating activities
  • Community development


As such, the relevance of the entire project is that it will assist the inhabitants of the informal settlement, and at the same time, it will assist in the recovery of the environment (

The geographical area targeted by the PIEC is the Porto Alegre area of Southern Brazil, comprising an area of 870km2, which is located along the route of the city’s main northern approach. The area is situated at the heart of a metropolitan region, which provides various transport connections including a suburban train system, the airport, the main interstate highway, and the city docks. The number of people being covered by the program is 200 families who have settled on the edges of the road, and who need to be moved to a more decent location. The total number of persons expected to benefit from the re-housing project is 3,775 people.

The project is expected to take a timeframe of between 15-20 years from implementation to completion. By completion, it means that the environment has been cleaned, all the informal settlement structures demolished and cleaned up, and the settlers relocated to their new living quarters. However, the work of the City Council may take relatively longer than that because the area requires constant checking to ensure that other settlers do not encroach on the area again. This timeframe is expected to cover all the processes including identification, design and planning, appraisal, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and impact assessment (Cohen, 2011).

Stakeholder List

The stakeholders of the program include the people, organizations, and groups that are bound to experience some change because of the program, whether negative or positive, as well as those who contribute to the change. For the PIEC program, the stakeholders would include the inhabitants of the informal settlement, the City Council, the financers, and the existing population.

The Inhabitants from the Informal Settlements

            From the onset of the program, the inhabitants have been the heart of the project as a whole and they are the people who stand to gain the maximum benefit at the conclusion of the program. These people have been cramped in about 20 settlement areas for years after moving to the city from the countryside. They settled in the region because they could not afford to live in the formal settlement schemes that were available in the city due to the lack of proper jobs that guaranteed a steady source of income. Because the settlements are unplanned for by the City Council, they lack basic social amenities such as proper sanitation, water supply, garbage management, and sewerage systems. In addition to these is the social disadvantage that comes with inadequate economic and social amenities, crime. The inhabitants experience all kinds of crime and insecurity is high in the area. The City Council identified the need to relocate the people, improve their standards of living, and assimilate them with the existing population by using the measures that have described above. The measures include making use of complementary projects that would work in hand with building the new houses to improve the living standards of the people. They include;

  • Urban infrastructure including adequate sewers
  • Landscaping
  • Community activity space
  • Income-generating activities
  • Community development (Cohen, 2011)

The inhabitants of the informal settlements in Porto Alegre were chosen for the project because they have settled on land that requires development. The area they currently occupy has been designated for new roads and the ones that have been encroached on the need to be expanded. This cannot happen if the people are still living in the area, and therefore the project will kill two birds with one stone; it will free the area for road construction and expansion and at the same time, it will improve the living conditions of the residents.

Of utmost importance is the income-generating activities and the community development aspects because these will ensure that the people are able to work and earn a livelihood. This will provide them with the much-needed cash to buy necessities such as food, clothes and pay for their shelter. They will also be in a position to afford a decent education for their children, which goes a long way in elevating the standards of a community. The improved standards of living will open up opportunities to the people to go out and meet other citizens and in this way, the cohesion amongst communities is created and improved and this works towards the improvement of the local as well as the federal community. The crime rate in the area will also reduce significantly since the people will be busy at work earning a living, and people mainly engage in criminal activities due to high poverty levels. From the income generated, the people will be able to pay levies and taxes to the local government. The taxes and levies go a long way in building the kitty for development purposes and the provision of social amenities to the citizens (

The City Council

            The City Council of Porto Alegre is the second stakeholder that the report shall discuss. This is because the City Council is the founder and owner of the PIEC project that seeks to turn around the lifestyle of the inhabitants of the informal settlement. The council has been charged with the responsibility of overseeing the well-being of its citizens by the Federal government through the provision of adequate social amenities in terms of a clean and healthy environment, water supply, sewerage systems, infrastructure, housing, and areas for community activities. This sparked the need for the relocation of the informal settlers to more advanced and formal living conditions because, in addition to improving their lifestyle, the demolition of the informal settlements and cleaning of the areas where they currently reside improves the image of the city, and this may also go a long way in attracting foreign investors which would translate to improved economy of the city.

The City Council, being the owner of the project, is responsible for ensuring that the aim of regenerating the area, improving the connections with the city, whilst providing environmental recovery and making sure that families were relocated to safe settlements nearby and included in the formal society has been met. It must also ensure that all other stakeholders involved in the project are well coordinated for the smooth running of all activities. Sourcing of funds, contractors, and the making of the working timetable is also within the scope of the city’s duties and responsibilities. The council should also ensure that the project works within its budget and within the timeframe that it has been provided for. This avoids the wastage of materials and other resources, which could be put to much more use to upgrade the city (

Financers and Other Contributors

            The City Council of Alegre is responsible for ensuring that the project’s planning and implementation functions have been carried out in the most viable manner. In doing this, the council is working with other stakeholders to assist in the financing of the project as well as in other logistical issues. In the year 1999, the master plan of the city identified the targeted area suitable for putting up the low-income housing project. This was highlighted as a priority for the city and that was when the idea was initially conceived. This conception was highly influenced by the Habitar Bid Brasil (HBB) program, the city’s main source of funding for social housing projects. The HBB thereafter facilitated a consultancy with the Argentinean Centre for the Study and Development of Environmental Projects (CEPA). The consultants suggested that the council should widen its scope and not only focus on providing low-income housing to the people but also include other urban development issues. This challenged the City Council to come up with a broader view of addressing the problem including the measures discussed earlier, and this is now a more holistic way of addressing the housing deficit problem. The land on which the housing project is being erected does not belong to the City Council but is owned by the Federal Government and some private landowners. With time though, the City Council will acquire the land from them, and this makes the Federal Government and these private companies join the group of contributors to the program.

In the implementation of the project, the City Council will also involve the private sector who will act as the executor of the project. However, this will be done under the watchful eye of the City Council’s project managers. The private sector will work on construction, provision of building and other construction materials, demolition of informal settlement structures, cleaning up of the garbage in the area, fixing of the sewerage systems, and water systems.

The City’s Participatory Budget was a great contributor to the program by being involved in the conception of the idea. Having been implemented in Porto Alegre in 1989, the OP has been helpful in considering the views of the public in matters of investment decisions. To do this, it has divided the city into sixteen distinct regions and gathers requests from the public using each of the regions. In a span of 8 years between 1999 and 2007, the OP collected 229 requests from the region in which the PIEC program is being implemented, and these requests were all put into consideration when the project was being conceived.

In addition to the above contributors to the program, a leadership development group was also created. This group met every month to discuss design options for the housing project and the landscaping project, to visit other similar projects and see the new way of living that was being proposed, and to visit the construction sites. This leadership group also came up with the rules and regulations that had to be followed by the inhabitants of the houses about ownership, modification of the house, and the rules that governed the area surrounding the housing project (


Bystanders to any project include individuals who are not direct beneficiaries or direct contributors to the project. In this case, the bystanders include the public of Porto Alegre and the surrounding cities. The housing project and the other measures that shall be implemented by the City Council will have direct and indirect effects on the people living in the city as well as outside the city. To begin with, after the area currently occupied by the informal settlers has been cleared, it will give room for the creation of new roads and expansion of the already existing roads. This will improve the infrastructure and therefore the living conditions of the people living in the surrounding area will improve. In addition, they will experience reduced crime because the current perpetrators of a crime shall be engaged in income-generating activities that will reduce the poverty levels that are often responsible for causing crime (Gordon, 2011).

Indicators and Possible Proxy Values that Will Help to Measure and Calculate the Added Social and Environmental Value of the Project

Stakeholder Outcome Indicator Possible Proxies
Inhabitants of the informal settlement Upgraded living standards ·    High employment rates

·    Improved wages

·    Sufficient living area

·    Reduced crime rates

·    Easy access to clean water

Reduced GDP
The local community/ The bystanders Improved infrastructure especially roads ·    Seamless travel

·    Accessible ticketing

·    Easy to access vehicle and built environment

·    Easy to access information

·    Cost of treating accidents victims

·    Slow economy due to delays in transport activities

The City Council Increased revenue in the forms of taxes ·    Increase in foreign investors

·    Increase in business activities from the locals

Cost of financing the city budget from other sources
Federal Government Increase in revenue from taxes and levies on business ventures ·    Increase in the number of investors

·    Increase in number of durable houses


Cost of constructing new houses

Lack of revenue through taxation

The environment Reduced waste matter ·    Reduced incidences of disease resulting from the polluted environment such as typhoid

·    Increased  landfill lifespan

·    Increased waste recycling units in the region

·    Increase in waste collection capacity

·    Cost of treating some communicable diseases

·    Cost of treating polluted water