In Rio de Janeiro, the First Week of February Brought More Rain Than Expected for the Month. Who Suffers From Climate Change? The Favelas! #VoicesFromSocialMedia

Landslide in the favela of Santo Amaro in Catete caused by the heavy rain. Photo Pedro Ivo/Agência O Dia

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This article is part of RioOnWatch’s #VoicesFromSocialMedia series, which compiles perspectives posted on social media by favela residents and activists about events and societal themes that arise. It’s also part of a series created in partnership with the Behner Stiefel Center for Brazilian Studies at San Diego State University, to produce articles for the Digital Brazil Project on water issues and the LGBTQIAP+ population in Rio’s favelas and in the Baixada Fluminense for RioOnWatch.

Environmental racism shaped the building of our cities. It’s no surprise who suffers the consequences.

In the first week of February, between Sunday, February 5, and Saturday, February 11, and in particular on Tuesday, February 7, Rio de Janeiro suffered a series of extreme weather events which caused chaos, flooding, landslides, and deaths. After the heavy rains, favela organizers and climate activists denounced the effects of climate change in Brazil falling disproportionally on favelas and urban peripheries. In the Rio de Janeiro context, climate change manifests the grave environmental racism that marks the city, where low-income, majority Black communities are the most affected

ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM is the inequality existent in the way that we experience environmental degradation. Shocking images like the ones we see in favelas and surrounding areas during the moments when it rains in Rio show that. Chaos is greater for some people and their areas!

It is a fact that the climate crisis affects different groups in different ways. And the idea of CLIMATE JUSTICE is precisely the attempt to ensure rights and some chance for those suffering the crisis’ impacts in a way that is unequal and unjust, stemming from environmental racism.

Where’s all the funding allocated for basic sanitation works in Jacarezinho?
Where’s the right to dignified housing?
This is our children’s reality!

On Sunday, February 5, climate change led to a tropical storm with winds so strong they created huge waves in the Guanabara Bay which caused a passenger boat with 14 people on board to sink between the islands Ilha do Governador and Ilha de Paquetá. By a week after the accident, six people had been rescued alive and six found dead while two people were still missing. Only the following Sunday, February 11, were two bodies seen by fishermen near the Rio-Niterói bridge. One of the bodies was identified a few hours as the seventh fatality from the wreck after being taken to the Legal Medical Institute (IML). On Sunday night the Navy finally confirmed the second body found as the final missing victim.

On Tuesday, February 7, storms were felt across all regions of the city. It rained more in four hours than the expected rainfall for the whole month of February. In a 24-hour period, six people died due to the rains, including three in favelas who died in landslides or rockfalls.

Where there’s environmental inequality, there’s environmental racism.
Yesterday in Rio de Janeiro it rained more in a few hours than expected for the entire month of February. Landslides, deaths, over 100 sirens went off in the city of Rio alone, people lost their homes and belongings.

In the favela of Morro Santo Amaro in Catete, Rio’s South Zone, José Sirlei Carvalho Dinos, 81, died buried by boulders that fell from a balcony and retention wall on Rua Pedro Américo. According to resident reports, the structures were struck by lightning during the heavy rains. Dinos was at home when rocks broken off by lightning started to fall on his property. Another elderly woman in the community was injured by rockfalls.

Aylla Sophia, just two years old, died after a landslide on the Chácara do Céu hillside. The little girl’s family had just moved to the favela three days before the hillside collapse. According to neighbors’ reports, rainwater was pouring in through the roof until suddenly a deluge came down the hillside with stones and mud hitting and destroying the house. Aylla Sophia was buried and died on impact. Her mother escaped with her life.

On the same night, this time in the Greater Rio municipality of São Gonçalo, Gizelle Martins Bezerra, 22, died as a result of a landslide in Morro da Coruja in the Neves neighborhood on the border with Niterói. According to neighbors, the house collapsed in a landslide down the hillside. Bezerra was trapped underneath a wall and fallen earth. She succumbed to her injuries and died.

During the afternoon and night of February 7, the city of Rio reached a state of alert—the fourth on a scale of five stages. 113 of the 162 city sirens were triggered, warning residents of favelas and other landslide risk areas of imminent geological disaster. This shows the storm raged intensely across the whole city, having a particularly destructive impact on its favelas.


Torrential rains affect Rio de Janeiro every summer. However, deaths and material losses are not caused by nature but by the lack of preparation and public policies to ensure citizens’ safety in the face of climate change.

Collectives, community organizers, and favela residents in the Greater Rio metropolitan region reacted on social media, outraged by the losses suffered with these summer rains.

Avoid Avenida Democráticos and Avenida Suburbana. Everything flooded at the entrance to the Jacarezinho and Manguinhos favelas.

The Fala Akari Collective reported that this happens every year and asked residents to take care and avoid going out, posting a photo of the completely flooded street outside their base. According to Acari residents, the city government hasn’t offered the support needed for those affected.

Our community was one of the places affected by heavy rains today. The river that surrounds us, the Acari River, overflowed. The stream on Rua União did too. We have a lot of flooded streets.
We ask people to take care and avoid leaving home!

In Complexo da Maré, the Maré Vive media collective reported floods on Rua B1 near the Maré Museum.

What is this rain, guys!
May God protect our people.
[Taken at the] End of Road B1.
Photo: Kele Pessoa

Photo taken by members of the Maré Museum who were marooned inside the institution on Tuesday, February 7.
Photo taken by members of the Maré Museum who were marooned inside the institution on Tuesday, February 7.

Renata Trajano, co-founder of the Straight Talk Collective from Complexo do Alemão, used social media as a reminder of the importance of support centers being ready to take people in during storms like the ones at the beginning of February. The support points offer shelter and safety for vulnerable people. Residents in risk areas go to these reference points after the sirens sound warning about the risk of landslides.

Support points should be open with staff there to receive people.
We have some spread across Complexo do Alemão should you need them.
Stay alert for the sirens

Community newspaper Voz das Comunidades reported that Fazendinha was the most affected area in Complexo do Alemão. On the newspaper’s post Avenida Itoaca can be seen completely submerged at the entrance to Fazendinha.

Another stretch of Avenida Itacoa at the entrance to Fazendinha (Complexo do Alemão) #RainRJ

Manguinhos and Jacarezinho were among the favelas most devastated by the events of February 7. In Jacarezinho, desperate residents saw water reach up to almost the second floor of their homes while hearing cries for help from neighbors.

“Mr. Governor Cláudio Castro.
Where are the funds from the Integrated City program allocated for effective dredging of the river, Mr. Governor Cláudio Castro?
Jacarezinho residents only know the State to be effective through its warlike power when there’s a [police] operation in the favela.
Where are all the funds earmarked for repairs to sewerage and drainage systems in Jacarezinho’s river? @claudiocastrorj”

A video taken by a Jacarezinho resident which circulated on favela movement WhatsApp groups shows water rising above the entry level to his home. At his front door, incredulous, he filmed the water level rising as a result of the rain. He posted the video with the sarcastic comment: “it’s raining a little.”

Close to Jacarezinho, on Avenida dos Democráticos and behind the major Civil Police center, the Cidade da Polícia (Police City), floods almost covered cars parked on the road and brought along a lot of garbage.

JUST NOW: Situation on Avenida Dos Democráticos behind the Police City in Jacarezinho #RainRJ

It’s worth remembering that Jacarezinho is one of the favelas where the Integrated City program has been touted. Among the actions planned and yet to be carried out are the desilting, widening, and environmental remediation of the community’s rivers.

Similarly, in the Vila São Pedro favela in Manguinhos, Chirley Vicente, 57, has suffered for years with the force of floodwaters and state neglect. A social worker and founder of the Institute for Social Action, Sport, and Education (IASESPE), known locally as the Skate NGO, Vicente suffers year after year the double sadness of seeing her home and her social project destroyed by flooding from the Faria-Timbó River.

The Faria-Timbó river seen from Vila São Pedro, in Manguinhos. Photo: Juliana Pinho
The Faria-Timbó River seen from Vila São Pedro, in Manguinhos. Photo: Juliana Pinho

It’s been no different this summer. On her way home at dusk on February 7, Vicente shared a video of the situation in Vila São Pedro in Manguinhos on WhatsApp groups. Capturing the view from the Linha Amarela highway, the video shows the Faria-Timbó River had burst banks and was completely overflowing. The images show the floodwaters reaching treetops and almost the rooftops of homes.

According to Vicente, summer always brings joy and destruction. In the WhatsApp group she vented: “I’ve still not been to the Institute but at my home the fridge is floating.” In her video you can hear her lamenting how much she paid for the refrigerator which is now unusable because of the flood.

Jessica Lene, an activist born and raised in Manguinhos, emphasized the lack of public policies and political will to resolve concrete problems in the favelas. For Lene, heavy rains are common and to be expected. There should be preparation for them through more investment in basic sanitation and infrastructure in the favelas.

The problem isn’t the rain nor the favela. Yesterday we experienced yet another [instance of the] phenomenon called “the absence of public authorities.” The rains have increased but the lack of investment in basic sanitation is historic. It’s the favela resident who suffers.

In Salgueiro, also in the North Zone, a torrent of water crashed into a school. Because of works carried out behind the school building, the drainage of rainwater became blocked, and water flowed into classrooms and other areas leaving furniture and electrical appliances floating. Speaking over the video, a man asks for help from the authorities:

Above Santa Teresa in Rio’s Central Region, residents in Morro dos Prazeres witnessed waterfalls form on the stairways and alleys in the community, as can be seen in the video below.

In the South Zone, Ruan Juliet, born and raised in Rocinha, described how the absence of the authorities means heavy rains become a dangerous event. Known for making funny videos showing his community, he chose to pause the humorous content to denounce what he witnessed on the night of February 7. Juliet recorded a video showing what Rocinha is like during heavy rains. He tells of how the streets flood due to a lack of sewage treatment and explains how this puts residents at risk, as well as motorbikes and vehicles that get dragged along by the torrents coming down Rocinha. Like Renata Trajano, Juliet cites the importance of sirens that sound to stop weather disasters from becoming human tragedies.

This is how rains work here in Rocinha. Send this to your friends so they know how it works here and save the video too.

Also in the South Zone, in the Horto community in Jardim Botânico, TV Horto showed a huge flow of water and mud covering the community slopes coming from the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics (IMPA) where there have been controversial works and accusations of deforestation.

🎵Man doesn’t have a heart anymore, he destroys nature and calls it evolution. 🎶
Impa works on Rua Barão de Oliveira 60, at two different times.
Photocollage: @desmentindoimpa

Residents fear that the works could affect the species that live in the region and the surrounding communities. Furthermore, with part of the mountainside cleared and now without the native forest, landslides become more likely.

Rua Barão de Oliveira Castro 60 – plot of land belonging to Impa (Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics)

Water and mud came down from the IMPA works with the torrent invading houses in Horto, as shown by TV Horto:

Water invades a home on Rua Pacheco Leão due to the enormous quantity of water and mud from the Impa works on Rua Barão de Oliveira Castro 60.

In Santa Marta, in Botafogo the rain came down with such force it formed a current that swept away everything in its path on the streets and alleyways of the steep South Zone hill. This phenomenon resulted in shocking images of the rain in the community.

Elsewhere in the South Zone in the favelas of Pavão-Pavãozinho and Cantagalo, a video circulated on WhatsApp showing sirens sounding while the favelas on the border of Ipanema and Copacabana were punished by rains on the night of February 7.

In another video in the same community it’s possible to observe the difficulty and danger that motorbike and moto-taxi drivers face going up the hill in heavy rains. In the recording we see two motorbikes confronting a current as they try to go up the slope. Cheered on by residents, the first motorbike had one person on and managed to go up with some difficulty. The second had more weight with two people and tried in the middle of an increase in the torrent to go up the street but didn’t manage and turned back to the relief of residents in the video.


Impacts on Favela Ecosystems

It’s important to remember that the whole ecosystem in which favelas are territorially inserted suffer disproportionally more with the consequences of extreme weather events. Humans, fauna, and flora in the favelas are increasingly vulnerable in terms of climate. For example, in Vila Aurora—a West Zone favela in Curicica, Jacarepaguá—alligators were seen swimming through flooded streets in the community on Tuesday night, February 7, causing panic among residents.

An alligator moving around in the Rio flood in Curicica.

The next day after the water level dropped, some alligators remained in the streets and alleyways of the community. Outside their natural habitat in the middle of houses, the fire service had to be called to rescue the reptiles. The animals were returned to the Pantanal Carioca, specifically the Marapendi Municipal Nature Park in the drainage basin of the Jacarepaguá lowlands.

Alligator is rescued by firefighters in Curicica.

On the other side of the city in Complexo da Maré, an alligator also took over the alleyways and residents’ social media. Various profiles published a video in which a child leaves a flooded area with a baby alligator in his hands. In the video, he seems to be trying to sell the animal for R$1,000 (US$190) during the February 7 floods. The alligator was probably carried by rainwaters from a swamp region where the species is endemic to the mangroves of the Cunha Canal and Guanabara Bay, on the edges of Complexo da Maré where it was found by the boy.

A child found a baby alligator during the heavy rains today. The incident occurred in Complexo da Maré.

Also in the North Zone, in Acari, sociologist and community communicator Buba Aguiar posted a photo on Twitter of a frog and a video of an alligator swimming through streets in the favela flooded by the Acari River. In the tweet, Aguiar highlighted that this isn’t out of the ordinary, as these animals are typical of the Acari River. She also recalled having seen alligators at other times in the Terra Nostra area of Acari.

During the rains that fell today in Rio de Janeiro, this tree frog appeared in the home of a resident here in Acari. This alligator seemingly bathing in the flood also showed up around here.
Well, for someone who’s seen alligators sunbathing in Terra Nostra, I’m not surprised 🙃

Solidarity and Advocacy Campaigns: How to Help and Act

As communities particularly affected by the rains on February 7, organizers started joining forces to attract attention and resources to help residents in Manguinhos and Jacarezinho. Jota Marques, a teacher and organizer from City of God, guardianship councillor in Jacarepaguá and substitute Rio de Janeiro city councilor, posted a photo on Instagram showing a worker submerged at his front door in Jacarezinho. In the post, he recognizes that the problem is largely public management but states that this is the time to join forces in support of residents most impacted by extreme weather events.

My friend @flowerthamy sent me this photo this morning. There in the photo is worker @yurypacheco01.
This is a portrait of yesterday’s havoc here in RIO.
The house is in Jacarezinho. There’s so much absurdity that I don’t know where to begin. I’ll leave the criticism for later. As it’s about public management and not a cup of guaracamp [soft drink].
Now is the time to strengthen support campaigns. Can you help?
🚨Get in touch with: Jacarezinho: @flowerthamy / @guiafavela / @ongcriadefavela / @favelaterapia / @ajornalinda
Manguinhos: @palomasgs2 / @manguinhos.solidario / @ajessicalene

It is precisely with this focus on emergency support for Jacarezinho residents that the Cria de Favela NGO is collecting non-perishable foodstuffs and mattresses because, as they wrote on Instagram: “There are thousands of people with nothing to eat and nothing to sleep on.” The organization’s mission is to support the delivery of projects in Jacarezinho and was founded by journalist and former Federal Deputy David Miranda, who was born and raised in the community, and his husband, journalist Glenn Greenwald. The collection point for donations is the NGO’s headquarters on Rua Viúva Cláudio, 279, Jacarezinho. Those interested in supporting the efforts can donate with money transfers via Pix to the account linked to CNPJ 44.207.659/0001-99. Donations of any value are welcome.

Meanwhile, in response to the recent rains and their disproportionate impacts on favelas, Rio de Janeiro’s Climate Coalition will carry out its annual Global Climate Strike on March 3 through a demonstration in Jacarezinho and march to Manguinhos.

Jacarezinho needs help!!
A lot of people have lost their goods and are having to start again, practically from scratch.
The rainwater exceeded a height of 1.60m in some parts of the community, covering many homes in the region.
Residents, business owners, all need donations.
Cleaning products, toiletries, clothing, and foodstuffs are the main necessities at the moment.
Donation point:
Rua Viúva Cláudio, 279 – Jacaré
+55 (21) 969430418

LabJaca, a laboratory in Jacarezinho which conducts research and training and produces data and narratives on favelas and the urban periphery, shared various ways of helping residents affected by the climate disaster on its Instagram. The research group shared that the GRES Unidos do Jacarezinho samba school and the Padre Nelson Parish Church had their doors open to shelter residents who couldn’t return to their homes. The post ended with two phrases that are reflective of the feelings of abandonment, solidarity, and the by us for us spirit: “We’re nothing without you!” and “All help is welcome!”

⚠️ Jacarezinho needs help!
Our favela was badly hit by yesterday’s rains. In this moment, solidarity will make all the difference.
❗️We need volunteers for the collective action clean-up
❗️The Padre Nelson Parish Church and Unidos do Jacarezinho samba school are sheltering people
❗️The Cria de Favela NGO is collecting donations of cleaning products, basic hygiene products, non-perishable foodstuffs, and clothing.
💡The Pix for donations is
🧽 The collective action clean-up is happening every day. Just get in touch or visit the Cria de Favela NGO
All help is welcome!

In neighboring Manguinhos, residents’ engagement to alleviate the suffering of those who have lost everything is also notable. The Fala Manguinhos collective quickly organized the SOS Manguinhos campaign with the aim of meeting the primary needs of those affected.

🔴 S.O.S. Manguinhos
With the heavy rains of February 7, a lot of families living in Complexo de Manguinhos lost everything in their homes. Even the most essential items are missing. Social movements and independent institutions in Manguinhos have united in a large solidarity mobilization for those who’ve lost everything and want to restart their lives with dignity.
We’re counting on all of you to help in this journey of rebuilding homes as fast as possible, after all those who’ve lost everything need a foundation to start over—OUR MISSION IS TO CONTRIBUTE WITH THESE FAMILIES’ PRIMARY NECESSITIES AND YOU WILL BE OUR ALLY IN THIS IMPORTANT CHALLENGE.
On the cards we guide you about various types of CONTRIBUTIONS you can make at this time of solidarity. We also share contact information for the social project which is leading the collections—MANGUINHOS SOLIDÁRIO (with direct support from many other local collectives).
All help is welcome, we’re with teams ready to collect donations and also have fixed collection points.
Financial donations via PIX will be used to buy food, toiletries, and cleaning materials to be distributed among affected families.
Obs.: When making donations via PIX please check that the information corresponds with what’s shared on the card (fake profiles are being created in the project’s name)
Any questions call: +55 21 972630080

SOS Manguinhos is asking for contributions of cleaning and hygiene materials, foodstuffs, bedsheets and towels, furniture and electrical appliances, and mattresses to be delivered to one of the four collection points in the community: the Varginha Neighborhood Association Party Room on Rua Leopoldo Bulhões 952, near the Manguinhos train station; the Joaquim Venâncio Polytechnic Health School (EPSJV) at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz); and the Germano Sinval Faria Health School Center. It’s also possible to donate via Pix with money that will be used to buy food, toiletries, and cleaning products for the families affected. Transfers should be made through the Coletivo Manguinhos Solidário on behalf of Paloma da Silva Gomes, CPF 130.200.787-41. Donations of any amount are welcome.

If you’d like to donate furniture or electrical appliances but don’t have a way of taking items to the community, call or send a message on WhatsApp to Bruno Martins at + 55 (21) 97258-9151 and arrange the collection of what you’d like to donate to those affected by the rains. If you’re able to take items to Manguinhos, deliver them to the Varginha Neighborhood Association.

Furniture and electrical appliance donations 🛋️🪑🛏️📺
The S.O.S Manguinhos Campaign continues strong in assisting families affected by the rain and floods in the territory where the situation is one of huge material losses.
Manguinhos needs your help!
To donate furniture and electrical appliances, get in touch via WhatsApp and arrange collection:
☎️(+55-21) 97258-9151 (Bruno Martins)
…or if you prefer you can deliver directly to our collection point at the Varginha Neighborhood Association party room (Rua Leopoldo Bulhões 952, Varginha)
For donations via the Coletivo Manguinhos Solidário Pix:
PIX/CPF: 130.200.787-41
(Paloma da Silva Gomes)

SOS Manguinhos is also organizing the distribution of hot meals in Varginha for people who have lost not just the food they had at home but the means to cook and buy new food.

_Hot meal donations_🍛🍛🍛
The S.O.S MANGUINHOS Campaign is distributing hot meals to residents affected by the heavy rains and floods of 02/07. Check out the distribution times and locations!
You can contribute to this campaign via the PIX for *Coletivo MANGUINHOS SOLIDÁRIO*:
*PIX/CPF: 130.200.787-41*
(Paloma da Silva Gomes)
To donate other materials or to volunteer get in touch via WhatsApp: *+55 (21) 97263-0080* or on social media *@manguinhos.solidario*

Jessica Lene also shared the SOS Manguinhos campaign, making her own Pix available for bank transfers and will offer updates on what was received and spend the amount on food and cleaning products. Jessica Lene’s Pix for transfers to support those affected by the rains is +55-21-99658-8078.

Guys, as you’ve been following, various houses have suffered with flooding. I can’t change things for everyone, but if I can help the people on my grandmother’s street that’d be great. The situation is extremely serious. We need cleaning and hygiene materials, some families need food too. I will account for all the money received.

Also in the North Zone, in Barreira do Vasco, the Torcida Organizada Guerreiros do Almirante (GDA)—a soccer supporter’s club renowned for its social action—denounced the effects of the February 7 rains in the community. In a video shared on the group’s Instagram page, the president of the Barreira do Vasco Neighborhood Association, Vânia Rodrigues, made an emotional appeal for help while standing in a flooded alleyway with water reaching waist level.

Even after Vasco’s win we’re still worried. Barreira do Vasco is our home, and our care for it has to go beyond the matches.
We received this video from Vânia, @vaninha.miguel, President of AMBV.
Barreira do Vasco asks for help!
And to the Barreira do Vasco residents who aren’t able to remain in their homes, the Baptist Church has its doors open to take EVERYONE in.

With the crisis facing residents, the GDA launched the Barreira do Vasco Asks for Help campaign to collect cleaning products, personal hygiene items, clothing, bedsheets, and food for those affected in this São Cristóvão favela. On Sunday, February 12, there was a collection for donations in a trailer in front of the São Januário Stadium just before the Vasco and Fluminense local soccer match.

We URGENTLY need cleaning materials, brooms, squeegees, cloths, buckets!!!
The AMBV is open and accepting these items!!
Pix for donations:
– Luiz Gustavo

About the authors:

Julio Santos Filho has a Bachelor’s in International Relations (UFF) and a Master’s in Sociology (IESP-UERJ). A black man from Ilha do Governador, he has worked as chief-editor of RioOnWatch since 2020. In 2021, he was the editor of the “Rooting Anti-Racism in the Favelas” project, a silver medalist in The Anthem Awards and winner of the Megafone Award of Brazilian Activism for best independent media report.

Vinícius Ribeiro was born and raised in the West Zone of Rio, and currently lives in the favela of Ladeira dos Tabajaras, in the South Zone. Journalist, cinematographer and photographer, he is a member of the Fotoguerrilha Collective. He is director and screenwriter of short films SobreviverDame CandoleSob o Mesmo Teto and Entregadores, and is currently involved with a project about the Uberization and precarization of labor.

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