Flooding in BrazilBrazil is a country that is prone to flooding due to its extensive river systems, tropical climate and deforestation. Flooding had significant impacts on poverty in Brazil, affecting vulnerable populations and exacerbating existing social and economic inequalities. Brazil suffered an economic loss of $6.1 billion during 142 flooding events from 1900 to 2016. The World Bank reported that an estimated 2.75 million people in Brazil lived in extreme poverty from 2016 to 2021. The country’s GDP per capita has decreased dramatically since 2017, falling from $9,896 falling to $7,507 as of 2021.

Displacement & Infrastructure Damage

Flooding in Brazil often results in the displacement of people from their homes, particularly those living in informal settlements or slums known as favelas. The Organisation for World Peace (OWP) reported 4,000 residents of Sao Paulo facing displacement after ongoing flooding in February 2023. Recent flooding and landslides have damaged and/or destroyed infrastructure and communities in the regions of Sao Sebastiao, Barra do Sahy, Juquehy, Camburi, Boicucanga and Ubatuba.

Health Impacts

Water infrastructure has been either destroyed or severely damaged leading to authorities delivering drinking water in tank trucks throughout the affected areas, according to Worlds Aid. Flooding causes infections and bacteria to rampage through communities, with the most common being waterborne diseases, but others such as tetanus and bacterial infections are also present. The National Library of Medicine reported that from 2010 to 2014, Brazil had a total loss of R$ 9.2 billion ($1,845,240,412.00) due to flooding damages.

Social Vulnerability

Vulnerable communities such as indigenous populations face greater challenges when dealing with the impacts and recovery of flooding. These communities are less likely to gain access to health care services, and this exposes them to waterborne diseases.

Brazil’s agricultural sector has seen devastating declines since 2003, falling as low as 4.1% in 2010. However, reports in 2021 have shown an increase to 6.9%, the highest since 1994. The biggest influencer of this is climate change and floods, affecting vulnerable rural communities like farmers and creating further poverty in Brazil in these sectors.

Ongoing Efforts

The World Bank has provided over $100 million in an investment project to mitigate natural disasters in southern Brazil with the intent to construct disaster-prone economic hubs. Around 800 municipalities in the Southern regions are eligible to strengthen their urban resilience through this trust fund investment. In June 2022, the EU allocated a humanitarian fund of $1 million to several Brazilian municipalities which the floods affected. It provided for the rebuilding of infrastructure like schools and houses.

CAF America works with nonprofit organizations to establish funding and support for Brazil. Acao Cidadania, a humanitarian organization, has donated more than 200 tons of food and water amid the ongoing flooding crisis in Sao Paulo in 2023. And in December 2021, the Brazilian Red Cross launched the DREF operation in response to the heavy flooding and extreme weather that declared 155 of 417 municipalities in a state of emergency in Bahia. The Red Cross distributed vouchers to 800 families that covered the necessities. The organization provided 800 blankets and 300 mattresses to affected families, administered first-aid to more than 300 people, provided mental health and psychosocial support to 800 evacuated families and distributed water filters to 800 households.

Looking Ahead

With many residents prone to flooding, extreme poverty in Brazil is an issue that still affects vulnerable and poor communities. However, humanitarian groups continue to make efforts to provide additional support for those affected.

– Joshua Rogers
Photo: Flickr

Impact global poverty
Many non-governmental organizations that work to fight global poverty ask for donations, including The Borgen Project. When someone is living paycheck to paycheck, even donating a dollar can seem like too much. In 2017, about 78% of workers in the United States reported that they are living paycheck to paycheck. What can individuals do if they want to make an impact but don’t feel they have the capital to do so? Here are five ways to impact global poverty without spending money.

Stay Informed

The United Nations published a piece called “The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World.” One of the organization’s recommendations of something everyone can do from their couch is to stay informed on the issues they want to impact. Unfortunately, misinformation can actually harm global poverty. The UN Foundation reported that many people think global poverty has been increasing when, in actuality, it has been cut in half. Staying informed is important in recognizing the common myths about global poverty and informing others.

Volunteer Time

The Face and Voices of Recovery Organization, the Charities Aid Foundation and the UN recommend volunteering as a way to impact causes without spending money. In 2018, the Charities Aid Foundation reported that 39% of people in the United States volunteered their time. In addition, UN volunteers wrote that volunteering can be formal or informal. People can work directly with an organization to impact global poverty, like offering to create digital media for the cause. Alternatively, they can work informally by putting posters about the cause around their community.

Spread Awareness

Another way to impact global poverty is by spreading awareness. In addition to volunteering, the organizations above suggest sharing information about the cause on social media. Heather Weathers, the director of communications at HopeKids Incorporation, wrote a report about how social media is a place where people can first get involved with supporting a cause. Of those who are social media supporters, 37% use those sites to learn more about the organization and cause they’re supporting.

Call and/or Email Congress

If you speak up, your local legislators will keep track. Every time someone calls or emails about a specific bill, Congress members keep a tally of the number of people who voiced support for or rejected the bill. You can find your representatives by putting your ZIP code into the House of Representatives’s “Find Your Representatives” page. The Union of Concerned Scientists wrote an article providing tips for anyone considering calling Congress. The article reported that reaching out to local representatives, researching the issue first and being concise are some good ways to go about calling Congress. Similarly, there is a wealth of templates online for anyone interested in emailing Congress, including The Borgen Project website.

Inspire Others to Give

There are also ways to impact global poverty by convincing others to donate. One donation strategy, for which Facebook created a platform in 2017, is the concept of donating your birthday. This process includes choosing an organization and asking people to donate through either an online platform or fundraising letters. From 2018 to 2019, Facebook birthday donations raised about $1 billion for charities.

Even when someone is unable to fight against poverty financially, there are other ways to support the cause. Being informed, volunteering, spreading awareness, contacting Congress and inspiring others to give are all ways someone can impact global poverty without spending money.

– Melody Kazel
Photo: Flickr