Six states in the North and Northeast regions have families displaced or displaced by heavy rains in recent days, with records of deaths and homes ruined by floods and landslides. The areas in a state of emergency extend across Acre, Amazonas, Pará, Rondônia, Tocantins and Maranhão. According to environmentalists, the destruction is a consequence of extreme weather events and disorderly urban occupation, which pushes poor populations into areas of risk.
In Manaus (AM), a landslide on March 12 left eight dead and hit 11 houses in the Jorge Teixeira neighborhood, east of the city. Intense rains hit the city again this weekend, and 172 families were left homeless, according to the municipal administration. Among the victims, poor residents of stilt houses and wooden houses, who are on the route of the flood and cannot resist the force of the water.
A recent study by MapBiomas points out that Manaus (AM) is the Brazilian city with the greatest expansion of urbanized areas in precarious settlements. In the analyzed period, between 1985 and 2021, the capital of Amazonas had an area equivalent to 10,000 soccer fields occupied by inadequate housing. Behind in the ranking are São Paulo (SP), Belém (PA) and Rio de Janeiro (RJ).
Read more: Level of the Acre River continues to rise and worries residents of Rio Branco
“Specifically on Pingo D’agua Street, in the Jorge Teixeira neighborhood in Manaus, where eight people died due to a landslide, there was no record of a risk area. However, the area is located within a settlement known and delimited by the IBGE”, says the study by MapBiomas.
In Maranhão, more than 31,000 families have already suffered directly or indirectly from the storms. São Luís (MA) and 48 other cities entered an emergency situation, with 5,800 homeless and six deaths across the state. The capital of Maranhão is in sixth place in the ranking of Mapbiomas among cities with growth of urbanized areas in precarious settlements. According to the study, the North, Northeast and Southeast regions concentrate most of the cities with housing expansion in risk areas.
Victims in Acre are poor and black people, says Angela Mendes
In Rio Branco (AC), the Acre River and the creeks that cross the urban area rose rapidly and entire neighborhoods were submerged. Since Thursday (23) it has rained almost all expected for the entire month. About 32,000 people were affected, according to Civil Defense.
“Many of the families that lost everything are in a very specific place: on the banks of the river, along the igarapés and streams, but also in neighborhoods that don’t have the slightest infrastructure, nor basic sanitation”, declared by social networks Ângela Mendes, daughter of Chico Mendes is a socio-environmental activist who works in the Alliance of Peoples of the Forest and in the committee named after his father.
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Ângela points out that the most vulnerable victims of Rio Branco are riverside and peripheral populations, who live in flooded areas and have few socioeconomic conditions to rebuild after natural disasters.
“That’s why we need to talk about climate justice. There are people who are able to react to these situations, and others are not. Most of them have a very specific profile: they are poor and black people. And that configures environmental racism”, points out the activist.
The Mapbiomas survey concluded that the Amazon leads the growth percentage of informal occupations in the Brazilian territory. “In this biome, 29.3% of urban growth was in informal areas. The North Region has 13 of the 20 cities with the highest proportion of growth, with Belém among the top five on the list”, say the researchers.
Preventive measures must be taken, says Greenpeace
As a way of anticipating new tragedies, Greenpeace advocates that the federal government review and implement the National Adaptation Plan (PNA), along with the National Risk Management and Disaster Response Plan.
Implemented in 2016 by the Ministry of the Environment, the PNA aims to create government goals and strategies for the management and reduction of risks that arise due to the climate crisis.
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“We are experiencing an increase in extreme events in our country! It is urgent that the public authorities face the discussion of adaptation and prevention of catastrophes very seriously. We cannot act only in response actions, the problem is structural and the way out is to end with the social inequalities that produce vulnerabilities”, says Rodrigo Jesus, spokesperson for Climate and Justice at Greenpeace Brazil.
Government considers declaring climate emergency in 1,000 municipalities
The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Marina Silva, visited the areas affected by the rains in Manaus (AM) and said on Sunday (26) that the government is discussing the issue of a decree to recognize a state of climate emergency in 1,038 municipalities mapped as more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
The objective, according to the minister, is to allow preventive works to be carried out, such as soil and drainage studies, in addition to social assistance work that anticipates tragedies.
“In addition to the emergency situation, there are prevention projects, these are medium and long term projects. We are living under the effect of climate changes that are getting worse every day”, stated Marina Silva.
Editing: Thalita Pires
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