Posts tagged research findings

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Research Warns About the Impact of Evictions on Residents’ Health

For the original by Cláudia Freitas in Portuguese in Jornal do Brasil click here

According to data by Fiocruz, hypertension, stroke, depression, and even suicide were reported.

Removals occurring in communities such as Complexo do Alemão and Manguinhos in the North Zone and Rocinha in the South Zone, primarily as a result of the Growth Acceleration Program (PAC) of the Rio state government, are having serious repercussions on residents’ health. In addition, the main objectives identified by the state government for the PAC program in the areas of housing, basic sanitation, and urban mobility were not achieved. Partial conclusions are presented in a report produced by the National School of Public Health’s Manguinhos Territorial Laboratory (LTM) in partnership with Fiocruz and the Ministry of Cities/CNPq, delivered by the end of 2014, with recommendations for improvements in the communities studied.

The project, called ‘Public Policies, Housing, and Sanitation: A Participatory Analysis of the PAC Manguinhos from the Perspective of Health Promotion and Environmental Justice,’ is coordinated by researchers Marcelo Firpo de Souza Porto and Marize Bastos da Cunha, who for the past year have been evaluating the work of the PAC in the communities with the participation of social entities and residents of these areas. The purpose of the study is to develop a diagnostic matrix of the problems caused by the government’s program in the favelas and identify the elements that trigger them. Preliminary results point to a serious picture common among the three communities, which is related to the process of eviction of residents that live in the localities where the PAC projects occur.

“The impact these removals have on residents’ health is enormous. We had an idea of this when we interviewed residents and health professionals in Complexo do Alemão and Manguinhos. They told us about incidents of people suffering stroke, depression, hypertension, and even suicide after experiencing the drama of dispossession. We don’t have access to official data, but with these stories we can already trace a direct correlation between the project and people’s health,” Marize Cunha clarified.

The Fiocruz researcher described the chaotic scene she found in the community of Manguinhos following a series of removals initiated in 2009. “It seems like a scene out of a war movie, with houses destroyed, areas flooded, only skeletons of buildings. It is desolate. [And that is] without mentioning the precarious conditions of those families who resist the government summons’ and remain in their houses without the provision of basic services, which are cut by public utilities, or in other words who survive without water and electricity,” Marize related. One of the residents of Manguinhos told the researchers his home was condemned by the authorities following a collapse, and the indemnity payment did not correspond to the market value of the home, much less allow him to buy another property. “This person was desperate, stressed. Quality of life declines greatly in these cases,” said Marize.

Evaluating the removals in Alemão, Marize cited another aspect that leads to the illnesses: the breaking of family ties. “Many families are separated in the process of vacating their homes and are brought to very distant places by the government, completely changing their routines and causing great impact on their social relations. This also is cause for suffering and illness,” she says.

Despite the report still being in the production phase, studies indicate that the largest problem experienced by the community of Manguinhos is housing, while in Alemão it is deficiency in the basic sanitation system, and in Rocinha, urban mobility. According to Marize, the question of sanitation in Alemão is historic and has to do with inefficient public policies. The problem of trash accumulation presents itself in the whole city, but in the favela it is dealt with differently because it requires a specific process for removal, demanding that the resident bring it to a determined point. Water presents another problem. Lack of water supply has become a natural and common occurrence, and while it is essential and must be provided daily and with quality, this is not happening in the researched areas.

“During the PAC program, various water tanks were built in Alemão, but they are out of service because of technical problems,” said Marize. According to her, public investments to maintain a regular water supply are large but fundamental from a social and health perspective. “What we see is that when the government opens a bidding process for this service, the big businesses bid but offer prices that will not allow them to compete the project. And within this line of thinking, more expensive projects are carried out, such as the construction of water tanks, after which companies solicit add-ons for the continuity of investment, which aren’t always provided, and the project is abandoned. Many times, the project is registered as complete according to government data, and the population doesn’t even have any idea of this. Later, it is difficult to obtain public resources to finalize the work,” the researcher clarified.

In Rocinha, the researchers detected the problem of urban mobility, aggravated by the residents’ protests against the construction of the cable car. “Because of the PAC project and past experience in Alemão, it is easy to see that the cable car doesn’t follow the logic of the area, with its alleys, main streets, areas of access, and highest points. In other words, it isn’t going to help in transporting people. In addition, the system that moves the gondolas doesn’t allow them to stop in stations for access by disabled people or people carrying shopping bags. This is another of the residents’ complaints. It is a big investment that impacts the budget and that could be used for more necessary projects or alternative transportation, which is more appropriate for the region,” the researcher explained.

In the three communities, many residents’ homes have been condemned due to cracks which result from the vibrations caused by the machines used in the PAC project. In the community of Matinha, in Alemão, cracking occurred in various rooms in the homes surrounding the water tank, and the homes are now being dispossessed. Residents who seek out the city government to register the incident and receive compensation are being relocated to a housing project in the neighborhood of Santa Cruz in the West Zone. To Marize, the collapse of many buildings in Complexo do Alemão, provoked by heavy rains that fell in the city last month, is a consequence of triggers such as poor administration of public policies in the community, including lack of planning, absence of dialogue with the population, and insecurity of housing.

Marize cited an unusual fact that occurred last month during the popular Circulando event by the Roots in Movement Institute (Instituto Raizes em Movimento) in Alemão. The wreckage of a staircase that belonged to a house demolished almost two years ago was painted with graffiti by fine artist Mário Brands, who gave a cultural soul to the ruins and was praised by residents for the initiative. “Days later, city agents were in the area and destroyed the new work of art. The strange thing is, that staircase was there for a long time as a symbol of social violence, cruel action, and something that hurt the community. As soon as it was changed to a symbol of empowerment, it was destroyed. It’s outrageous,” said Marize.

Studies are developed through interactive workshops

The methodology applied in this research aims for the development of workshops in the communities of Alemão, Manguinhos, and Rocinha. There have already been two meetings in each area since the beginning of the researchers’ work, with participation of 15 residents in each region selected based on three attributes: gender, residential location, and age. In the first meeting, which occurred last July, the Fiocruz researchers presented a line of study and identified the range of problems cited by the residents. In the second workshop, in October, the researchers revisited the issues debated, providing statistical data, video material, and theory about each subject identified. “The intention is to implement the themes selected by each community, listening to them and then developing a study with their cooperation,” explained Marize Cunha.

Before the end of the study, other workshops will be conducted. In Complexo do Alemão, the meetings are organized with collaboration of the Matinha community leader, Renata Trajano, and the Roots in Movement Institute, an NGO that was created to discuss social themes and provide humanistic and logistical support to residents of Alemão. “By way of the debates about housing, health promotion, sanitation, and mobility, participants are becoming aware of the ways in which these factors interfere in the personal and professional life of each resident and, at the same time, are elements of social transformation. There is a convergence between the themes, and we hope to demonstrate how this process occurs day-to-day. When a place is overrun by trash, for example, and if we have heavy rain, the debris will get stuck in the access ways, close off the passages in the entrances to houses, and interfere directly with mobility. The government must also do its duty and fulfill its promises. The project to widen the main access road that cuts through Complexo do Alemão, Joaquim de Queiroz Avenue, was not completed, and it was among the demands proposed to the authorities by the community. With this, the superficial repairs to the avenue serve as merely make up to cover up the larger problems in the crossroads,” explained the researcher.

Results of the workshops serve to elaborate recommendations to the government, which will be provided at the end of the study. The content will combine scientific knowledge about the identified themes based on specialists’ opinions and the experiences told by residents of the three communities. “They are differentiated but equally important visions about the same subjects. This shared vision of knowledge that we call Broad Community of Research (CAP by the Portuguese acronym), which produces a third fund of knowledge, which is the final result of the study,” explained Marize.

Despite the study scheduled to be finalized only at the end of 2014, there are plenty of evaluative data conducted by the Fiocruz team that are already circulating in Rio’s communities. Researchers’ access to the residents and the regions in the complexes of Rocinha and Alemão occur through partnerships with TV Tagarela and the Roots in Movement Institute, respectively.

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Study Finds: Militias Dominate 45% of Rio’s Favelas

For the original in by Gustavo Goulart in Portuguese in O Globo click here.

Militias dominate 454 of the 1,001 favelas located in the Rio de Janeiro municipality. This is one of the findings of research carried out by anthropologist Alba Zaluar and her team from the Institute of Social Studies and Politics (IESP), Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ), and Christopher Barcellos, coordinator of Fiocruz’s Information in Health Laboratory and the Institute of Communication and Scientific Information and Technology (ICICT).

The study also shows that 370 communities, or 37% of the total, are still controlled by drug traffickers. The Pacifying Police Units (UPPs) are stationed in 174, or 18% of the favelas. The entire study titled “Urban Health – Homicides in and around Rio’s favelas” was presented on Wednesday, December 4, at the “Seminar on the Pacifying Police Units Program, or how to Transform it into a Proximity Policing Program” at IESP headquarters in Botafogo.

According to Alba Zaluar, the number of favelas was taken from the 2010 Census carried out by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

“The militia dominates the scenario. But it is important to highlight that the favelas have different dimensions, and different populations. This point is important in order to recognize what still needs to be accomplished in the city,” commented Alba Zaluar, who coordinated the seminar.

The study also showed that only six favelas that have gone through the pacification process are free of drug trafficking: Chapéu Mangueira and Babilônia in Leme; Batan and Avenida Brasil (Batan neighborhood) in Realengo; Camarista Méier in Engenho de Dentro; and Morro Azul in Flamengo. This last favela has a Military Police base. Furthermore, according to the study, only 23 of the 174 favelas with UPPs have disarmed drug traffickers. Researchers from ICICT are still collecting data on the number of homicides in the favelas.

“It’s an interdisciplinary project, through which we are seeking to recognize via mapping the places where there are high risks of homicides and violent deaths. As an ethnographic study, it searches to understand what motivates people to go into combat with each other. It also takes into account the reaction of residents of favelas where UPPs have been installed. This is all being done in order to create a state policy that will be beneficial to the population,” affirmed Alba Zaluar. “It might offend the chief drug lords, and the militia, but it is important to provide a better life for people.”

The presentation seminar included four debates: “The past condemns us;” “What is Proximity Policing;” “Functions of the UPP commander in the favela;” and “Other institutions.” Alba Zaluar, Christovam Barcelos, Frederico Caldas, commander of the UPP Coordination office, Jacqueline Muniz from Rio de Janeiro University Research Institute (IUPERJ), and Flávio Mazzario, president of the Fallet neighborhood association, among others, took part in the seminar.


In Brazil, Black Workers Earn 36% Less

For the original article in Portuguese on G1 click here.

A study released November 13 by the Inter-Union Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies (DIESSE) shows that a black worker is paid on average 36.1% less than a non-black worker, regardless of region or educational attainment (in Brazil). According to the study, the difference in salary and employment opportunities is even greater at the management level.

The research study, “Blacks in Metropolitan Job Markets,” was carried out in the metropolitan areas of Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Fortaleza, Porto Alegre, Recife, Salvador, and São Paulo. The study highlights that the disparity between salaries of blacks and non-blacks is only slightly influenced by region, hours worked, or sector of the economy.

Average hourly wage (2011/2012). Source: DIEESE/SEADE, MTE/FAT and regional entities

“Any way you look at it, blacks earn less than whites,” said economist Lucia Garcia, organizer of employment and unemployment research for DIESSE, in an interview with Globo News. “We have seen that progress in education has improved the education of the black population, but it hasn’t eliminated inequality. We see more inequality in higher education.”

Garcia shows that in metropolitan areas, blacks account for 48.2% of the workforce, but receive on average 63.9% of the pay of non-blacks. Among workers with college degrees, average pay is R$17.39 for blacks and R$29.03 for non-blacks (see table).

“The black worker encounters difficulty throughout his or her professional life,” says Garcia, “From the moment of hiring, through the opportunities to advance in his or her career.” According to DIESSE research, in the São Paulo metropolitan region, 18.1% of non-black workers reach management level, compared with only 3.7% of blacks.

The study shows that blacks are still concentrated in occupations of lower prestige, such as bricklayers, servants, painters, manual laborers, janitors, trash collectors, and domestic workers.

DIESSE says that affirmative action policies such as university racial quotas help increase opportunities for black citizens’ work and study, but adds that to effectively serve this population, quotas should also be introduced in business.

PDF of the full study, in Portuguese.

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More Than a Quarter of Favela Residents Have Felt Discriminated Against

For the original by Vinícius Lisboa in Portuguese for Agência Brasil click here

Around 30% of favela residents in Brazil have suffered prejudice, asserts Favela Data Institute’s first study, “X-Ray of Brazilian Favelas,” released November 4, 2013 at the 1st New Brazilian Favela Forum. According to the study, 59% of residents agree that those who live in communities in the urban periphery are discriminated against.

Skin color was the reason identified by 32% of those who said they were victims of prejudice, and for another 30%, it was living in a favela. For 20%, the prejudice was due to their lack of money, and for 8%, the clothes they wear.

The study also found that 37% of favela residents have been searched by the police before, with the proportion increasing to 65% when it comes to 18 to 29-year-olds. Among those who have been frisked, the average reaches 5.8 times in their lifetime. “We have one side of the State presence that helps and the other that shows prejudice,” said Renato Meirelles, one of the founders of Favela Data.

On the other hand, the survey found that 75% of favela residents are totally or partially in favor of the Pacifying Police Units (UPPs). Altogether, 73% of residents consider favelas violent, and 18% deem them very violent.

For more than 60%, however, the community has improved in recent years, and 76% believe it will improve in the next few years. 66% of respondents have no desire to leave the favela, and 94% consider themselves happy, just one percentage point less than the national average, according to the Favela Data.

The study interviewed two thousand residents of 63 favelas in Brazil between July and September, after training community residents on participating in the formulation and application of the questionnaire. “It is not enough to produce numbers about the favelas, it is necessary for the favelas to produce and interpret these numbers,” said Meirelles.

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Rio Transport System in Crisis

For the original in Portuguese in Observatório de Favelas click here

The notorious transport system in Rio de Janeiro continues to worsen. In the last two weeks, two trains on the Supervia suburban railway broke down, causing many inconveniences to passengers. Some, upset by delays, caused damage to a station and even set fire to some of the train’s wagons. On Rio’s subway, beyond the limited coverage which fails to integrate the different areas of the city, the 640,000 daily passengers must cope with the historical problem of overcrowding and occasional breakdowns, like those that occurred at the end of August.

The streets are far from being the best option. Whether on foot or on bike, the lack of adequate traffic lights combined with low investments in maintaining streets for those who choose these forms of transport prove the biggest obstacles. On the buses, the situation is even worse: many of the more than 3.3 million people who rely on buses have to put up with daily overcrowding for prolonged periods as a result of heavy traffic. All this despite the Rio public bus system receiving most investment and having among the eight most expensive bus fares in the country. And even for those who have access to cars, travel time between home and work is increasingly approaching the time it takes those who have no vehicle and rely on public transportation.

In Rio, the time spent in daily commute is the highest among major metropolitan areas in the country. A survey published this year by Brazil’s Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA), which calculated the time spent commuting between home and work in nine metropolitan regions, showed that Rio and São Paulo have an average time 31% longer than the other seven regions. In Rio, the average time spent one way is 42 minutes. The surprise is that for the richest and the poorest, that time is almost the same, averaging around 40 minutes. The big difference is that the poorest face overcrowding in public transport, and must constantly withstand having to remain in stressful positions for extended periods of time.

In the late 1990s infrastructure projects, such as the Linha Amarela highway linking Avenida Brasil and Barra de Tijuca and nine subway stations, reduced the number of long-distance commutes in the city. However, this began to change in 2006, likely as a result of worsening conditions of public transport, combined with an increase in the number of vehicles on the road (20.8 cars per 100 people).

The crisis in transport has huge consequences for those who travel long distances by bus. For example, geographer Felipe Bagatolli, who lives in Taquara in Rio’s West Zone works at Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, in the North Zone, and is doing a postgraduate course at the Rio State University’s Teacher Training College in São Gonçalo, a municipality east of Niterói, Rio’s sister city across the Guanabara Bay. When he only goes to work, Felipe spends about two hours round trip on the bus. When he has class, the geographer spends more than three hours on public transport.

“During the week I spend a lot of time on buses, often standing. I think this affects my quality of life and that of thousands of others, causing health problems because of the fatigue, pain in the legs. And of course, there’s the time lost that one would hope to use in other ways, including leisure,” he complains.

Currently, in comparison with 31 cities around the world, Rio de Janeiro is second only to Shanghai, where the average travel time from home to work is 50 minutes.

Urban Mobility

According to Brazil’s Metropolises Observatory, Rio has the worst rate of urban well-being. Rio’s greater metropolitan region scored 0.015, where the maximum is 1. The survey assessed the availability and adequacy of public services, housing conditions and urban mobility, looking at transport.

According to the economist Marcelo Ribeiro, who participated in the creation of this index, it is worth noting that even though Rio is a smaller city that São Paulo, it has worse transport conditions: “Large metropolises are always at a disadvantage. But Rio de Janeiro did not stop to think about transport policies in view of it being a large metropolis. There is no integration; everything is concentrated in the municipality of Rio. Mobility is more expensive and complicated for those who are from another municipality. The issue of urban mobility is metropolitan,” he concludes.

The state of urban mobility in Rio is so critical that it pushes the index of urban well-being of the region to a level below those of cities in the North and Northeast, which have the lowest performances. In these areas, the low index is a result of poor housing conditions and a lack of public services. However, in the Southeast, the main factor for the low level of urban well-being is transport.

Marcelo Santos, a member of the Rio de Janeiro Urban Mobility Forum, notes that the concentration of investments in road transport has contributed to aggravating the crisis in the sector. “Public buses are not mass transit. Mass transportation is by subway or train, any expert knows that. This discussion already occurred at the Urban Mobility Forum, where experts unanimously agreed on this,” he says.

According to Santos, regulation also plays an important role in sustaining Rio’s transport problem. He said that the Public Services Regulatory Agency for all means of transport in Rio de Janeiro (Agetransp), an agency created to oversee transport and highway concessions in the state, does not inspect preventively. “Agetransp only reviews news stories. Once a story is published about a concession’s irregularity, they will go there and say ‘we will vigorously investigate and punish this company.’ Months later, they return with a little note absolving the company. This recently occurred with with the company Barcas S/A, currently knowns as CCR – Barges, [which operates the boat services across the Guanabara Bay],” he recalled.

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