Observing Slums in Brazil: humanitarian network is a type of resilience?

Interdisciplinary Research Conference

Brazil: The Land of the Future?

Aarhus University, Dinamarca, de 12 a 14 de março de 2015


Theme: Urban space and grounds for optimism

Abstract submitted by  Heliana Faria Mettig Rocha, Assistant Professor, UFBA

Architect, Professor MSc. at Universidade Federal da Bahia - UFBA

LabHabitar - Programa de Pós-Graduação em Arquitetura e Urbanismo


Observing Slums in Brazil: humanitarian network is a type of resilience?


Observing ‘Vila Brasilândia’ in São Paulo and ‘Nova Esperança’ in Salvador, both slums in Brazil, we can identify a kind of resilience, still latent, which can be directed to more successful collective solutions. They have in common the proximity to dams that supply significant part of the water to these metropolitan areas, which would require high restrictions of contact by the residents to avoid the risk of contamination. Vila Brasilândia has a former group of inhabitants, health and environmental agents, and public school teachers who meet in a cultural space of the community, focusing a transition initiative to a more sustainable living. Nova Esperança, with a strong community association, now on its second generation, had preserved part of the originally occupied territory to collective functions such as education, health and leisure. The text shows two stories permeated by exclusion and constant social impacts that raised joint creative actions to ensure survival. Extreme proximity of houses, territory’s difficulties and lack of basic infrastructure promote insalubrity when added to ‘social trauma’ inherent of these populations, which violates the ‘right to the city’, the ‘human rights’ and the ‘right to environment’. Instead of promoting more violence and disagreement, it is important to notice true humanitarian network which is being developed in people’s daily lives and places as a valuable resource: neighborly relations, mutual protection, respect and brotherhood, which have been strengthened by local organization concerned with social, economic and environmental issues. These communities need to be viewed differently to take ownership of this valuable resource, making them stronger, recovering self-esteem and the ability to overcome challenges, with more respect from the people, government and international support. Interdisciplinary organizations providing technical assistance to local leaders can facilitate local development plans by self-management combined with ascending and descending political actions to the improvement of life.