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Situation of Slums in Brazil

Question:

Discuss about the Human Geography Transforming an Urban Slum.

Casavela is a slum located in the south east of São Paulo, Brazil. The name is derived from two Portuguese words, Casa, meaning ‘household’ and Favela meaning ‘slum’. It is less populous area with only 125 dwellings with 6 people on an average in each dwelling, total population being 750. The area is highly underdeveloped and there are many social and environmental problems in Casavela. The aim of the report is to provide solution to improve the social and environmental condition of the region and effective utilization of the budget of $4 million in two years, to be provided by the US Government.

Brazil has been known as the country with maximum slum area. These slums are commonly known as favelas. Almost 6% of Brazil’s population lives in the slums. Rio has almost 1000 and São Paulo has almost 1600 favelas (Meyer 2017). These favelas grew in numbers as the migration from the rural and poorer areas increased. Migration has been increasing towards to cities due to more job opportunities, better quality of life, education, healthcare and adverse and more challenging life in rural areas. The level of migration has increased in the past decade.  However, this rapid urbanization led to the crisis of accommodation and employment. Those migrated people cannot afford better and costly housing, hence they move into the informal and cheaper slums or favelas. In São Paulo, approximately 2 million people live in the favelas. These areas are characterized by very poor infrastructure, leading to problems of plumbing, electricity, sanitation and many more developmental issues. Due to this high level of underdevelopment, there too much health and hygiene problems (Rotsky 2016). Casavela is no exception.

The Brazilian government has taken several measures to improve the slum conditions. Initially, the government made policies to eradicate the people living in favelas. But that policy failed. In the 1980s, the policy shifted towards upgradation of the slums rather than eradication. São Paulo has introduced the policy of creating zones of special interest for the undeveloped and disorganized slums. This is done to formally recognize the existence of the favelas and making plans for their upliftment. Another measure authorizes the joint collaboration and movement by the government and citizen in new as well as more settled areas for the development of the areas. Casavela has many problems, which need government intervention. Through this report the plans for upgradation in Casavela will be focused (Dupont et al. 2015).

Government Measures for Slum Improvement

Like many other favelas, Casavela also suffers from many problems. The lack of development, lack of health and hygiene are the cause of very poor quality of life in Casavela. There are severe problems regarding quality and standard of life and infrastructural issues. There are 300 school aged children in Casavela but there is no school for them. The housings are built without government approval and all the house stocks are very poor quality (Nemer and Freeman 2015). Adult literacy is very low, the infant mortality rate is very high, immunization rate is very low, level of disease is high, residents do not get the minimum calorie from daily food, hence, the health aspect is very low and very high illegal activities (Rocco and Ballegooien 2015). The infrastructural issues are much more, such as, lack of sanitation and proper sewerage system, lack of waste disposal system, more unpaved roads, which generates more unhygienic practices, lack of formal public transport, no electricity, no running water in any home, same water used for drinking as well as for cleaning, pollution from surrounding cement works, lack of proper communication technology and internet, flash flooding during heavy rainfall in summer, open fireplaces causing casualties, and overcrowding (Lemanski 2016).

Among all these problems, the major priorities will be some infrastructural developments, which would improve the quality of lives of the people of Casavela. Those are providing water and electricity to all the homes, constructing drainage, sanitation and sewerage, building health facilities, creating jobs, acquiring new space, and housing upgradation.

The total budget for development was determined by the US Government at $4 million for two years. To implement the development plan, firstly, the priorities need to be set to make an overall development for the people. All the aspects should be covered in the plan, so that in the two years of funding, major changes can be achieved. Infrastructural development can result in a better way of life, which would be reflected in the social life of the people (Roig, Feitosa and Monteiro 2016). For implementing any improvement plan, new space is required. The Casavela development committee should first purchase some polluted industrial site and through remediation, this site would be used for building new housing. This would increase the total area by 20%. This step would reduce the problem of overcrowding and would cost $1,000,000. Next, investments should be made in a hardwood furniture factory, 500 m away from northern Casavela. This would generate full time employment for 45 people in the processing works. This would cost $ 1,500,000. Thirdly, the drainage system should be developed to reduce the environmental and heath damage from flooding. This task would also generate full time jobs for 5 people of Casavela. This would cost $750,000. Fourthly, the health of the people living in a favela is a concern. Since, the area is highly unhygienic; people suffer from various diseases and low mortality rate. Hence, twice weekly visit of two doctors and four nurses would be ensured by the development committee. However, this would only include the basic treatment and not immunizations or chronic illness treatment. Cost for this plan would be total $200,000. Lastly, providing safe drinking water to all the people of Casavela very important, hence, three new drinking water pumps would be installed and serviced on the south west edge of Casavela. One pump can provide water for 250 people and since the total population is 750, three pumps would be required. Cost for one pump is $100,000. Thus, the total cost of this plan would be $300,000. Therefore, all these plans can utilize the funding of $4 million for two years to improve the lives of the favela. The plans and their costs are represented in the table below.

Transformational plans for Casavela

Cost ($)

Purchase of new land to increase space of Casavela by 20%

1,000,000

Investment in a hardwood furniture factory in northern Casavela and generate employment for 45 people

1,500,000

Development of a drainage system and generate employment for 5 people

750,000

Twice a week visit by two doctors with basic medical facilities

100,000

Twice a week visit by four nurses with basic medical facilities

100,000

Installation and servicing of three new drinking water pumps

300,000

Total

4,000,000

Problems of Casavela

Table 1: Budget distribution for development of Casavela

(Source: Author)

Casavela needs long term planning for the overall development of the generations. The two year plan would solve only the immediate extreme problems. However, long term planning from the government is required. After the initial development plan is implemented, the focus should be on more detailed development of the area as well as in the life of people (Snyder et al. 2017). The following can be recommended in this regard.

  • The area needs a proper school for the children, as well as for the adults. Thus, new land should be acquired to build a school building and teachers should be appointed. Some locals can also be trained to provide services in the schools.
  • The younger generation should be given skills training for new job opportunities (Hacker et al. 2013).
  • Investments should be made in more factories and in scopes for generating employment.
  • Forest conservation plan should be made to reduce soil erosion and flooding
  • All the roads should be paved
  • Transport services should be developed so that the area gets connected with São Paulo (org 2017)
  • Communication system should be improved.
  • A hospital should be build.

Thus, in the next 3 to 5 years, many requirements should be addressed for Casavela. The area needs many infrastructural developments, which would make lives better. In the next two years some primary needs would be fulfilled. While, other needs, as mentioned above, must be addressed in the next couple of years for the overall improvement of Casavela.

References

Dupont, V., Jordhus-Lier, D., Sutherland, C. and Braathen, E. eds., 2015. The politics of slums in the global South: Urban informality in Brazil, India, South Africa and Peru. Routledge.

Hacker, K.P., Seto, K.C., Costa, F., Corburn, J., Reis, M.G., Ko, A.I. and Diuk-Wasser, M.A., 2013. Urban slum structure: integrating socioeconomic and land cover data to model slum evolution in Salvador, Brazil. International journal of health geographics, 12(1), p.45.

Lemanski, C., 2016. The Politics of Slums in the Global South: Urban informality in Brazil, India, South Africa and Peru Véronique Dupont, David Jordhus?Lier, Catherine Sutherland and Einar Braathen (eds). Routledge, Oxon, 2016, pp. xvii+ 230 (ISBN 978?1?138?83981?6). Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 37(2), pp.272-273.

Meyer, A., 2017. Urbanisation In Brazil. [online] Brazil.org.za. Available at: https://www.brazil.org.za/unrbanisation-in-brazil.html [Accessed 23 Sep. 2017].

Nemer, D. and Freeman, G., 2015. Selfies| Empowering the marginalized: Rethinking selfies in the slums of Brazil. International Journal of Communication, 9, p.16.

Rocco, R.C. and Ballegooien, J., 2015. Urban informality and democratisation in Sao Paulo: The sinous road to citizenship. In Proceedings of SLAS, Society for Latin American Studies Conference, Aberdeen, UK, April 17-18, 2015; Authors version. SLAS.

Roig, C.D.A., Feitosa, F.D.F. and Monteiro, A.M.V., 2016, February. Urbanization and Access Inequality to Collective Consumption Goods & Services related to Sanitation & Solid Waste in the cities of Sao Paulo State, Brazil. In AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts.

Rotsky, N., 2016. 10 Important Facts to Know About Brazilian Slums. [online] The Borgen Project. Available at: https://borgenproject.org/facts-about-brazilian-slums/ [Accessed 23 Sep. 2017].

Snyder, R.E., Rajan, J.V., Costa, F., Lima, H.C., Calcagno, J.I., Couto, R.D., Riley, L.W., Reis, M.G., Ko, A.I. and Ribeiro, G.S., 2017. Differences in the Prevalence of Non-Communicable Disease between Slum Dwellers and the General Population in a Large Urban Area in Brazil. Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease, 2(3), p.47.

Worldbank.org, 2017. Improving Slums: Stories from Sao Paulo. [online] Sustainable Cities. Available at: https://blogs.worldbank.org/sustainablecities/no-excuses-slum-upgrading [Accessed 23 Sep. 2017].

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