Archives for posts with tag: favela

ImageShanty towns in Rio de Janeiro, better known as favelas, started in the 18th century when the former African slaves had no land ownership and were forced to settle in these areas. But it was mainly during the rural exodus in 1970’s that the number of favelas in Rio grew rapidly. And it was still during the 70’s, while Brazil was under military dictatorship, that removal campaigns started and successfully placed over 100,000 residents in public housing projects or back to the rural areas.

Nowadays the number of favelas in Rio has doubled. And because these areas have been illegally occupied, there are many issues involving not only violence and drugs, but overpopulation, pollution leading to diseases and lack of basic infrastructure such as electricity, water and sanitation. Not to mention the great risk of landslides for the residents living on hillsides.

Many investments have been made by local governments to promote the urban development for the favelas and cultural programmes to reduce the gab between social classes. But that doesn’t solve all problems. According to 2009 statistics, 25 thousand families were living dangerously in hillsides. Up until last year 17,4 thousand families have been relocated, and the aim is to relocate the remaining families in the next four years.

Being 2012 a municipal election year, Rio has announced last week the revised plan to reduce the area favelas occupy by at least 5% until 2016. Rio had 46,84 million km2 of favelas in 2008, and has now managed to reduce this number by 2%. The aim is to complete the remaining 3% by 2016.

And for the favelas that are staying, just like the cable car that have been introduced to ‘Complexo do Alemão’, and the public library located on ‘Complexo de Manguinhos’, a project to build escalators and make the access easier for the residents of ‘Rocinha’, ‘Mangueira’, ‘Complexo da Penha’ and ‘Complexo da Tijuca’ is being discussed.

It’s a very controversial situation as the project makes a lot of sense and it’s clearly easy to see improvements are being made with more on its way. This will be a great gift to the city of Rio de Janeiro just in time for the 2016 Olympics. But it doesn’t sound as good if we look at it from the people being evacuated point of view. They’re being re-located to the suburbs further away from opportunity and economic advancement. This could end up increasing the homeless population living in the urban centre of Rio.

You might also want to read: Rio’s favelas to be removed

Rio's FavelaThe city hall of Rio de Janeiro will be removing 119 favelas entirely by the end of 2012. There are over 12,000 homes occupying an area of 2,34 million square meters – it’s an area larger than the whole borough of Leblon.

The decision has been made after all the recent floods that happened during this rainy season. Floods and huge landslides are sadly becoming very common and threatening, not only in Rio de Janeiro, but in São Paulo and other states on the south of the country, claiming a great number of fatalities.

All the favela residents will have to register and have their properties evaluated in order to take part on a programme that will assist them finding a new home. No one will receive money for their properties, so they either need to enroll for the programme “My Home, My Life” provided by the Federal Government, or the “Assisted Purchase”, where the house owner will have to find another property of the same value to exchange them. Rio’s city hall has raised an estimate of R$ 244 million to move all these families from the favelas to another place.

I do believe this decision has been very well planned and carefully thought through. With the 2016 Olympics just around the corner, and comments from abroad raising questions if the hosting city is secure enough, getting rid of this much favelas seems to be a good and, never less than, convenient decision. Of course the city hall couldn’t possibly justify it as being a security measure to combat crime.

In one way or another, Rio has been trying to fight violence and crime for a very long time. Meanwhile, the wonderful city, as it’s known in Brazil, is losing its sparkle and all the great features are slowly being overshadowed by the horrible things we hear on the daily news. Rio should be known as the beautiful city of the colourful Carnival, the warmth of the people, the beaches and great weather.

Perhaps now the city where Tom Jobim and his famous Girl of Ipanema were born will begin to be seen for its great wonders once again!

You might also want to read: Living on the edge