In May 2010, Catalytic Communities (CatComm), a US 501c3 nonprofit organization and Rio de Janeiro-based NGO, launched Rio Olympics Neighborhood Watch (RioOnWatch), a program to bring visibility to favela community voices in the lead-up to the 2016 Olympics, to be held in Rio de Janeiro. This news site, RioOnWatch.org, is our primary vehicle for publishing the perspectives of community organizers, residents, and international observers, in light of the fast-paced urban transformations that currently characterize Rio. The RioOnWatch program also works to grow the participation of community journalists and international observers in reporting on Rio’s transformations.* Finally, this program dialogues with the mainstream and alternative press to engender a more accurate picture of favelas, their contributions to the city, and their perspectives.



After three decades of stagnation, and with a world economy on the brink of recession, Rio de Janeiro is now one of the Americas’ fastest growing cities. Pricier than New York, and now receiving more than twice the international investment of São Paulo, a city marked by decades of poor governance and disinvestment is now gung ho to take advantage of recent offshore oil discoveries and having been selected to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, to reconstitute itself “a global city.”

Yet despite initial positive press for policies intervening in the city’s favelas, and significant work on the part of the city administration to engender a positive image in the face of international public opinion, there is growing debate about whether the city’s boom can actually serve to reduce the city’s well-known inequality. Known as the “Marvellous City” for its geographic beauty, Rio is also known as the “Divided City” by locals, who often live side-by-side rich and poor, yet face significant disparities and historic segregation in access to public services.

How will Rio’s “coming of age” unfold? What will the fate be of the city’s world-famous favela communities, numbered at over 1000 today? How is the city currently handling these communities? What can we foresee? Will Rio take advantage of this unique opportunity to grow and consolidate its economy without compromising its unique cultural heritage, and in a way that reduces inequality?

This is the subject of RioOnWatch.


Get Involved

If you’d like to support us, there are many ways!

  • Volunteer to translate. RioOnWatch.org relies on volunteer translators around the world to translate articles from Portuguese to English. If you are fluent in these two languages, please be in touch!  We can use your help.  Please email your CV, letting us know what sort of translation experience you’ve had in the past, what sort of hours you have available each week, for how long, and where you are based. We’d also love to hear how you learned about us. You can send this message to volunteer@rioonwatch.org.
  • Volunteer to report. If you’re fluent in Portuguese and English, have experience with urban development and are planning to spend at least 3 months in Rio, please consider joining us as an international observer “guest blogger,” blogging about Rio’s development for our site.  Please send a cover letter, your CV and travel plans to us at volunteer@rioonwatch.org.
  • Make a donation to Catalytic Communities. The support of individual donors is what makes it all happen. Please CLICK HERE for our donation page.
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  • Spread the word! Share our articles on your Facebook Wall, Twitter feed, or just talk to your friends about the issues we report on. Help us get these ideas and knowledge into the mainstream!

*Pseudonyms may be used on occasion.


contact@rioonwatch.org   |   +55.21.9197-6444   |   +1.301.637.7360