Sanitation in the Favelas

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

In June of 2013, social protests swept across Brazil. The Brazilian Spring, as it became known, was a response to the rising prices in public services and high government spending in areas other than much needed social services. A major cause of the protests was that sanitation has not mirrored but has in fact declined in the face of Brazil’s impressive growth. In July 2013, the federal government rejected a UN attempt to inspect and evaluate the country’s basic water and sanitation conditions. Nowhere are the effects of poor sanitization more evident than in Rio de Janeiro, where 30% of the population is not connected to a formal sanitation system and only half of the sewage from connected areas is treated before re-entering waterways. In favelas particularly, sanitation systems require an entirely different approach from wide-scale infrastructure initiatives due to urban structure, typography, housing typology and even lifestyle, often calling for many small independent systems rather than one large centralized system. Education on usage and maintenance of these systems is also essential for their success.

In Rio de Janeiro, ARCHIVE plans to mobilize a favela-wide “health and housing campaign,” starting with the construction of modular toilet and sanitation facilities. This project will be coupled with community engagement strategies to educate residents on the sanitation systems themselves, as well as the impact of poor housing, living conditions, and physical environment on health, with an emphasis on diarrheal disease.

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