Tag Archives: Brazil

Rio’s waste pickers: ‘People spat at us but now we’re at the Olympics’

Rio’s waste pickers: ‘People spat at us but now we’re at the Olympics’ |Source: The Guardian, Aug 6 2016 |

Rio authorities partner with Coca-Cola to fund the Rio Olympics waste pickers programme, putting a spotlight on one of Brazil’s most marginalised professions 

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Rio 2016’s waste pickers. Photograph: Luiz Galerani

Claudete Da Costa started working as a waste picker with her mother when she was 11 years old, collecting recyclable goods in Rio de Janeiro to sell to scrap merchants.

“We were ashamed,” she says. “People saw us and spat at us, thought we were thieves.”

Today, 36-year-old Da Costa’s outlook has changed. She is the Rio de Janeiro representative for Brazil’s National Movement of Waste Pickers, whose mission is to improve workers’ rights and increase recognition of the contribution made by one of Brazil’s most marginalised professions.

This month, Da Costa and 240 other pickers from 33 of Rio’s waste collecting co-operatives – autonomous groups that collect the city’s rubbish throughout the year – are formally contracted to handle recyclable waste during the Olympic Games.

The pickers will be spread across three of the four Olympic sites – Maracana, Olympic Park and Deodoro – where they will collect recyclable goods such as plastic bottles and aluminium cans, and take them to a depot to be sorted, stored and sold on by the co-ops to scrap merchants.

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A Cheap, Easy Fix to Rio’s Sewage Problem

A Cheap, Easy Fix to Rio’s Sewage Problem | Source: The Atlantic, Aug 4 2016 |

The reason so much sewage is flushed directly into Rio’s Guanabara Bay, city officials have argued, is that it’s too difficult to lay pipes in much of the city. The favelas are crowded and carved into steep mountainsides.

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Barros uses cups to demonstrate how the biodigester works. (Olga Khazan / The Atlantic)

They can be dangerous. Environmental activists, meanwhile, contend there’s not enough government will behind sanitation projects.

But there is one solution that gets around these issues: A cheap, seven-foot, cement dome that treats sewage with little more than some rocks, plants, and, well, coprophagic bacteria.

I learned about this contraption, called a biodigester, on a December reporting trip to Rio. On a scorching hot day, I took a cab up a mountain in the city’s northern zone, where I met Otavio Barros, the leader of the Vale Encantado community.

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Trash and treasure in Brazil’s Jóquei landfill – in pictures

Trash and treasure in Brazil’s Jóquei landfill – in pictures | Source: The Guardian, July 6 2016 |

The Lixão do Jóquei is one of the largest open landfills in Latin America. Under a 2010 federal law, all solid waste in Brazil should be put in modern landfills that have been lined to stop toxins soaking into the soil. brazil

Jóquei, which does not meet those requirements, is scheduled to be closed this year, but hundreds of people still make a dangerous living from scavenging amid its mounds of trash.

Exact numbers of people working at the site are hard to come by. According to municipal authorities, about 600 people sort rubbish here, but the workers themselves, known as catadores, put the figure at more than 2,600.

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Brazil official links inadequate sanitation to Zika outbreak

Brazil official links inadequate sanitation to Zika outbreak | Source: Yahoo News, Feb 11, 2016 |

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s minister of cities says there is a “strong link” between the country’s woeful sanitation system and the current outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

Gilberto Kassab said Wednesday that while the country has made progress over the past decade, sewage and water delivery systems leave “much to be desired,” and promised that basic sanitation will continue to be a government priority.

Sewage often flows through open channels into stagnant waters, and a lack of piped water service leads many Brazilians to rely on tanks that create a habitat for the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits Zika, which has been linked to a rare birth defect called microcephaly which can leave babies with long-lasting health and developmental problems.

Kassab conceded the virus spread “has a strong link with the absence of sanitation,” in quotes carried by the O Estado de S. Paulo daily.

His comments came at a news conference in the capital by the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops, which issued a statement blasting the government over water treatment, sewage and the collection of rubbish. The conference’s head, Sergio da Rocha, said “the lack of basic sanitation is among the principal causes for the proliferation of mosquitoes.”

Trata Brasil, a Sao Paulo-based pro-sanitation organization, says 35 million Brazilians, or around 18 percent of the population, do not have regular access to tap water. The group estimates that more than 60 percent of sewage nationwide flows untreated into waterways and onto the country’s famed beaches.

Sanitation has become a hot-button issue here ahead of this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as officials have acknowledged they will be unable to fulfill promises to clean up waterways where aquatic sports are to be held. An Associated Press investigation last year found Rio’s Olympic water venues are rife with sewage, with such high viral levels that experts say they represent a serious health risk to the approximately 1,400 Olympic athletes slated to compete in them.

Brazil: toilet protest on Ipanema beach against sewage pollution

In the wake of the World Cup and the Olympics, activists in Brazil are taking to the streets (and the beaches) demanding more investment in neglected public services like sanitation. Activist group Meu Rio (My Rio)  sat on lavatories on Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro to raise awareness about the dumping of untreated sewage into the sea. The group also laid out coloured silhouettes of common bacteria found in sewage on the sand.

My Rio sanitation protest poster

Some 70% of Rio’s sewage is said to be untreated as it flows into the sea off the beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and the Guanabara Bay, which will host several events at the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics. Source: Sky News, 26 Jan 2014

New WSP/World Bank report shows catalytic potential of factoring political economy into sanitation investments

A better understanding of a county’s political and social processes and entities that determine the extent and nature of investments in sanitation could catalyze a sharp increase in numbers of people with access, especially for the poor, according to a new report released by the World Bank and the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP).

Recent World Bank research shows that the current limited focus on sanitation is driven largely by political motivation in the context of competing demands for resources, and to a lesser extent by technical or economic considerations.

Based on an analysis of experiences in Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Senegal, The Political Economy of Sanitation, proposes an approach to address the political economy of sanitation in a given country in order to more effectively advocate with policy makers to invest more and to better target services for poor people.

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Impact of a City-Wide Sanitation Programme in Northeast Brazil

Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Aug 12.

Impact of a City-Wide Sanitation Programme in Northeast Brazil on Intestinal Parasites Infection in Young Children.

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Barreto ML, et al.

Background: Sanitation affects health, especially of young children. Residents of Salvador, in Northeast Brazil had a high prevalence of intestinal parasites. A city-wide sanitation intervention started in 1996 aimed to raise the level of sewer coverage from 26% to 80% of households. We present the results of a study to evaluate the impact of this intervention on the prevalence of Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichuria and Giardia duodenalis infections in pre-school children.

Methods: The evaluation was composed of two cross-sectional studies (1998 and 2003-4), each of a sample of 681 and 976 children aged 1-4 years, respectively. Children were sampled from 24 sentinel areas chosen to represent the range of environmental conditions in the study site. Data were collected using an individual/household questionnaire, and an environmental survey was conducted in each area before and after the intervention to assess basic household and neighborhood sanitation conditions. Stool samples were examined for the presence of intestinal parasites. The effect of the intervention was estimated by hierarchical modelling, fitting a sequence of multivariate regression models.

Findings: The prevalence of A. lumbricoides infection was reduced from 24.4% to 12.0%, T. trichuria from 18.0% to 5.0% and G. duodenalis from 14.1% to 5.3%. Most of this reduction appeared to be explained by the increased coverage of each neighborhood by the sewerage system constructed during the intervention. The key explanatory variable was thus an ecological measure of exposure and not household-based, suggesting that the parasite transmission prevented by the program was mainly in the public (as opposed to the domestic) domain.

Conclusion: This study, using advanced statistical modelling to control for individual and ecological potential confounders, demonstrates the impact on intestinal parasites of sanitation improvements implemented at the scale of a large population.