Tuesday, 10 January 2012

In the News: Brazil

Source: Vladimir Platonow/ABr
 Last year Brazil suffered from severe flooding and landslides, leading to what was described by many to be the 'worst natural disaster ever to befall Brazil.' Currently Brazil is back in rainy season and is again suffering from intense rain, flooding and landslides. Last week the intense rains caused a dam burst, leading to the evacuation of several thousand residents who faced the prospect of severe flooding as a result. Dam failure is always a very serious problem communities face, and the video shown within the above link hightlights why, with huge volumes of water being released.

One of the reasons the rainy season causes significant trouble in Brazil is beacuse of the poverty of many people. Poverty drives many people to inhabit the unsafe, unstable slopes surrounding cities such as Rio de Janeiro. Whilst many people know that the ground they live on is potentially lethal, they have little choice or choose to accept the risk in order to be closer to the main city, bringing food and a potential livelihood. 

Over the past year Brazil has invested significantly in measures to prepare for this year's rainy season and reduce the impacts of the rainy season - including better monitoring, forecasting and emergency evacuation procedures. The effectiveness of these measures will be evident over the coming weeks and months. In order to effectively reduce disaster risk in this area the authorities need to combine effective science and engineering with sustainable social development, community participatory approaches and effective governance and town emergency planning. Whilst it is not an easy task, it is encouraging to see how Brazil has invested in these areas over the past year - an investment which could save many lives in future rainy seasons.

Update: Since writing this post mudslides have occurred, killing 12 people (to date) - more information can be found on the BBC Website,