The first favela, or hillside shantytown, appeared
on the outskirts of Rio De Janeiro 100 years ago. Despite numerous
official attempts to eradicate these hand built renegade suburbs,
housing the poorest of the poor, they have multiplied over the past
century. Today there are more than 600 favelas, where one in five
Rio residents lives. São Paulo also has a large number of
The favelas are units of irregular self-constructed housing that
are occupied illegally. They are usually on lands belonging to third
parties, and most often located around the edge of the cities, often
crowded onto hillsides. Residences are built without permission or
a license and are often disorganised, without numbered streets, sanitation
networks, electricity, a telephone service or plumbing. In recent
years favelas have been troubled by drug-related crime and gang warfare.
In the past the authorities have taken a number of steps to reduce
problems in favelas. They have set up self-help schemes, with the
local authority providing local residents with the materials, such
as breeze blocks and cement, needed to construct permanent accommodation.
The local residents provide the labour, the money saved can be spent
on providing basic amenities such as electricity and water.
However a recent campaign is threatening the existence of the favelas,
which are home to 1.1 million of Brazils poor. The favelas are close
to some wealthy areas of cities and these residents are keen to evict
the poor from their homes. Officials are citing a variety of reasons
including environmental protection, land ownership disputes and concerns
over the safety of those living in the hilltop favelas. However Jose
Nerson de Oliveira vice president of the favelas in Rio de janeiro
has said, 'It isn't about land or trees or anything like that. The
simple fact is they don't want the poor close to them'.
Favela -People living in roughly built huts (shanties) usually by
Eradicate -To get rid of as if by tearing up by the roots. To destroy
Renegade -An outlaw; a rebel.
Amenities -Something that helps towards physical or material comfort.