May 27, 2020—Since Covid-19 reached Rio de Janeiro we have seen a growth curve with no sign of letting up as it has elsewhere in the world. The threat is particularly grave to favela residents where public sector neglect, insufficient water supplies, limited resources, dense living conditions, poor access to information, the inability to forego work, insufficient access to medical care, growing anxiety and high comorbidity all dramatically increase the chance of community transmission of the virus and death. On top of that, Brazil’s leadership has downplayed the pandemic, testing is grossly insufficient with two week wait times and a month’s lag for results, insufficient and tardy economic support has made it hard even for those who want to self-isolate, and we are now seeing a return of violent police operations in favelas.
The result is a growing crisis, which combined with severe underreporting is making it impossible to know how grave the situation is, where the hotspots are, and thus how possibly to flatten the curve, a concern that has been left to Rio de Janeiro’s civil society to address. Rio de Janeiro has surpassed São Paulo as Brazil’s hotspot of Covid-19 deaths, while the number of deaths is growing daily across Brazil.
Since the pandemic hit Rio two months ago, Catalytic Communities has focused exclusively on supporting favela organizers at the frontlines of prevention and mitigation. At least 34 favelas have now been infected, with the number growing daily. In favelas, the percentage of deaths is twice that of the city as a whole.
In response, we have ramped up our community reporting efforts on RioOnWatch to offer daily coverage as these resistance efforts unfold. We have held 40 live community Zoom meetings hosting a total 678 people and checking in with 136 community organizers from 50 favelas and 155 technical allies and volunteers who are working together to do everything from provide supplies to those on the frontlines, to developing and widely distributing a hygienization alternative to gel alcohol. We are raising funds for basic supplies to support favela physical isolation measures. We are part of a group advocating to the federal government for civil society-monitoring of water utilities. We are monitoring the spread of Covid-19 and calling attention to disparities with public data. We are connecting favela organizers with global media outlets who are covering their stories. And we are organizing live teach-ins online where up to 100 organizers weekly learn from those who’ve been successful in their resistance efforts.
Below, we have set up this special fund to help us fight the coronavirus in Rio’s favelas and we desperately need your help. Most of our promised funding for the year has been called off due to the economic impacts on our donor institutions and partners, and we are unable to travel to raise funds through public talks or events. We need you more than ever.
Please take a moment to set up a one-time or recurring donation, of any amount, today. Help us address this current crisis while continuing to work for systemic change in support of favelas in these uncertain times. US-based donations are 100% tax-deductible.
—The CatComm Team