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DISP 147 48 2001

Jorge Fiori, Elizabeth Riley and Ronaldo Ramirez

Physical Upgrading and Social Integration in of Rio de Janeiro:

the Case of Favela Bairro

Favela Bairro is the largest-scale squatter merous policies, programmes and proj- training centres; the construction and
settlement upgrading programme imple- ects which have variously sought their operation of new sports and leisure fa-
mented in Latin America. It has gained in- removal or their assimilation into the city cilities; the construction of commercial
fabric (see, for example, Baumann Bur- establishments (kiosks); and the cons-
ternational recognition as an example of a
gos, 1998). None have thus far suc- truction and operation of social and ur-
new generation of housing and environ- ceeded, and as the levels of poverty, in- ban advice centres.
mental upgrading programmes aiming at equality and drug-related violence have Internationally, Favela Bairro is receiv-
the reduction of urban poverty and social mounted over the previous two de- ing considerable attention and recogni-
exclusion. Based on research carried out cades, the divisions between the favelas tion as an exemplary upgrading pro-
and the rest of the city have deepened. gramme aiming at reducing urban
by the authors, the article examines the
While the favelas of Rio de Janeiro may poverty. Of course government initia-
central concepts which have informed not uniformly house the poorest of the tives to reduce poverty are far from
Favela Bairro and the ways in which they city’s poor, their residents suffer from new, but what is now different is the
were operationalised [1]. The examination sub-standard services and infrastructure, scale of current initiatives, their ambi-
is conducted in the light of seven policy ill-health, low levels of educational tious objectives and their complex insti-
attainment, social stigmatisation, vio- tutional arrangements and policy con-
characteristics which the authors have
lence, insecure employment, and low tent. Such initiatives reflect the priority
identified as typifying an emerging new and unstable incomes (Gilbert, 1995). It that poverty reduction is now receiving
generation of housing and upgrading poli- is in this context that the Favela Bairro from policymakers, international agen-
cies. The article argues that processes of upgrading programme was launched cies, NGO’s, and communities alike.
participation and democratisation are cen- by the Municipal Government of Rio de While during the 1980’s and early
Janeiro in 1994, aiming to provide the 1990’s poverty remained largely absent
tral if the latest generation of poverty re-
necessary conditions that would enable from national and international policy
duction initiatives are to have an impact favelas to be seen as neighbourhoods agendas, since the mid-1990’s its re-
which is both substantive in scale and last- of the city (SMH, 1995b). Favela Bairro duction has become a top priority of or-
ing in time. Yet, as demonstrated in the is one of many programmes that to- ganisations such as the World Bank, the
case of Favela Bairro, it remains extremely
gether make up the housing policy of UN agencies, and various development
the city, but of these Favela Bairro has banks. This resurgence of interest stems
problematic for governments to implement
the most resources, the greatest scale, from the growth in poverty and inequal-
projects which devolve significant decision- and highest political profile. It aims to ity over the previous decades, with
making powers to poor urban communities upgrade all the municipality’s medium- much debate focusing on the adverse
and, even more difficult, to institutionalise sized favelas (of between 500 and impact of structural adjustment policies.
2,500 households each) that make up A substantial and influential body of lit-
mechanisms for civil society participation
nearly one third of all favelas in Rio, but erature has been produced examining
as a central part of state reform and de-
which house around 60 percent of the the concept of poverty (see, for exam-
mocratisation. city’s total favela population (SMH, ple: Amis, 1995; Chambers, 1997;
1999a). Jones, 1999; and Wratten, 1995), and
This is an extended and modified version of All Favela Bairro projects have a as a result, it is now broadly accepted
the paper ”Favela Bairro and a New Gener- large number of basic components, that the concept of poverty signifies
ation of Housing Programmes for the Urban making it the most ambitious and com- much more than just a lack of income,
Poor” by the same authors, published in
prehensive of the large-scale upgrading also embracing factors such as ill-
GEOFORUM, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 521–531,
programmes in the developing world. health, poor access to essential ser-
2001. Adapted with permission from Elsevier
These components include: the installa- vices, vulnerability and insecurity. Ac-
tion and upgrading of water and sanita- cording to the International Forum of Ur-
tion infrastructure, and public and do- ban Poverty (1998) poverty is under-
mestic lighting networks; reforestation; stood as a multidimensional process, af-
the opening and paving of roads, fected by cultural conditions, interpreted
Introduction squares and walkways; elimination of subjectively by the people living in
In Rio de Janeiro favelas (squatter settle- natural hazards; the construction of new poverty, lived differently by people ac-
ments) have long been recognised as housing for essential resettlement; the cording to their gender, age, ethnic ori-
one of the most visible manifestations of setting up of rubbish collection systems; gin and abilities, including many forms
poverty in the city and as a symbol of the commencement of land tenure regu- of consumption that escape the cover-
the inequalities that exist between the larisation processes; the construction age of incomes and the concept of
rich and the poor. Favelas have been and reform of buildings and their subse- poverty lines.
part of the city’s landscape for over 100 quent use as nursery schools, commun- In addition to the broad acceptance
years and have been the subject of nu- ity centres, and income generation and of more qualitative understandings of
DISP 147 49 2001

poverty, there also appears to be some multisectoral approach at both project framework for the analysis of experi-
consensus on what should be done to re- and policy levels is a characteristic pro- ences such as those of Favela Bairro as
duce poverty. While there remains little moted by the emerging agenda as es- much as it aims to use the example of
appetite to examine the causes of po- sential if the multiple dimensions of Favela Bairro to reflect upon the ambi-
verty, there is general support for the poverty are to be addressed in a co-or- tions and ambiguities of an emerging
need for economic growth, reform of dinated and efficient manner. Thirdly, new generation of policies, particularly
legislative frameworks, decentralisation there appears to be a revival of interest regarding the problematic policy issues
and reform of government, and invest- in design, especially of public space of participation and democratisation of
ment in health, education and sanitation and buildings, advocating the need for the structures of decision-making and
infrastructure. design and architecture of quality so a management. The basic hypothesis here
This growing convergence on what to act as a vehicle for both social and is that policies aimed at sustainable,
poverty is and what should be done to physical integration. Fourthly, is the is- broadscale poverty alleviation must
reduce it is increasingly evident in gov- sue of scale, displaying a concern for be implemented in the context of in-
ernment policy documents, agency the project as a means to directly affect stitutional reforms that continuously
agendas and strategy papers which all people’s lives, but also a concern that strengthen mechanisms for power shar-
demonstrate similar approaches, com- projects be implemented on such a ing, decentralisation and democratisa-
mon concepts and a broadly shared scale as to impact on the city as a tion. This is more than a policy decision
language. This same trend is now start- whole, acting as a means to reduce in- and depends on the strength of civil sec-
ing to emerge in a piecemeal fashion in equalities and disparities between rich tor organisations and grass-roots move-
the field of housing. Housing – in its and poor neighbourhoods. The concept ments. Indeed, participatory processes
multi-dimensionality and its long-estab- of public-private partnerships is the fifth initiated outside the sphere of the state
lished links with health, personal safety, element, advocating the efficiency gains remain the cornerstone of institutional
income generation, productivity, educa- and cost benefits of involving private en- reforms. It is from this position that these
tional achievement, etc. – is, once terprises in planning, implementing, fi- processes can both enable the above-
again, recognised as playing a key role nancing and maintaining infrastructure mentioned synergetic relations and be
in the fight against poverty. Through an and services for the poor. The sixth ele- reinforced by them. Participation and in-
examination of the urban poverty litera- ment is that of state reform, stressing the stitutional reform appear, in this way, as
ture and policy documents, and through need for the decentralisation of govern- a condition and expression of the new
an exploration of actual programmes ment, fiscal reform, the reform of leg- policies and the new synergies, acting
and practices which typify the current islative frameworks, and such like, and as their point of departure and point of
approach to housing policy, we have aiming to make government more effi- arrival in a logic which is both top-down
identified those elements of policy most cient and transparent and urban legisla- and bottom-up.
commonly advocated as essential to tion less cumbersome and contradictory. Such a framework, which becomes
poverty reduction. Finally, the issues of participation and both analytical and propositional, re-
democratisation perhaps achieve the cognises that the specific characteristics
widest recognition as essential compo- of the key policy components will vary
nents of any poverty initiative, stressing over time and place, reflecting the im-
Towards an Analytical and the need to give the poor (and other portance of social, economic and politi-
Propositional Framework members of civil society) real decision- cal contexts. It also stresses the com-
Seven policy elements have been identi- making powers. As such participation is plexities of developing and implement-
fied as part of a framework for analysis. no longer just a means to ensure the ing this policy approach, especially
The first is derived from the literature on smooth running of projects but a means given the political sensitivity of the com-
the nature and concept of poverty. It is to empower, and thus a means to drive ponents. Indeed, the challenge lies in
the recognition that poverty is a com- forward the democratisation of (local) the fact that institutional reform and the
plex and multifaceted phenomenon, government to ensure lasting change. democratisation of institutions – which
lived differently by different people, and None of these policy elements are are at the heart of these new-generation
signifying much more than low income. new. They all present familiar “novel- policies – are, by definition, time- and
In consequence, there is also a recogni- ties.” What is really new, however, is context-specific. They are the materiali-
tion of the need to disaggregate the their combination and the emphasis on sation of concrete power relations and
poor. “The poor” as a category should a search for a virtuous circle of syner- the expression of specific, contradictory
not be seen as homogeneous, and fur- getic relations that could continuously and conflicting, social and political cir-
thermore, some groups need to be sin- condition each of the components and cumstances. Hence the impossibility of
gled out for special attention by policy hence determine the quality and extent mechanical replication of these pro-
makers, most notably women and chil- of the policy as a whole. The examina- cesses and policies as a model. This
dren, who are frequently more vulnera- tion of these elements and their interac- would be the negation of what the new
ble to poverty than others. Secondly, a tion aims at providing a conceptual generation of policies are about and
DISP 147 50 2001

would ignore the factors which made las, and working with the municipal rub- development of the city’s housing policy
them both necessary and possible. bish collection company (Comlurb) to initially worked for the Municipal Social
What we can argue is that there are cer- establish waste removal systems. Never- Development Department (Secretaria
tain parameters and elements which, in theless, throughout the 1980’s, both mu- Municipal de Desenvolvimento Social –
their specific manifestations, are in- nicipal and state programmes to im- SMDS) and other municipal agencies
creasingly present everywhere and prove the housing conditions of Rio’s and they used their knowledge of prob-
should be part of any serious attempt poor suffered from weak administra- lems of the favelas in their design of the
to address issues of poverty, particularly tion, paternalism, political conflict and Favela Bairro upgrading programme.
through urban and housing policies. scarce resources, a product of decades Prior to the creation of the SMH, a small
Rather than a model for new generation of dictatorship and of the fragmentation group of municipal employees would
policies, what is suggested is a method- and marginalisation of housing policy meet informally to discuss what elements
ological approach which, ultimately following the closure of the BNH. should be incorporated into a model
rooted in and propelled by processes of During the 1980’s, the percentage of multisectoral upgrading project. Ultima-
social participation, is and should be people living below the poverty line in tely their objective was to work on a
translated into a set of specific policies Rio increased from 27.2 percent to large scale and go beyond the limited
for specific contexts. 32.5 percent; Rio became the city with and piecemeal approaches which had
the highest absolute number of poor dominated the 1980’s and involved just
people in Brazil, standing at nearly a limited number of municipal actors.
3.64 million, and had the highest index Due to the activities of this group, by the
Housing Policy and Favelas in of inequality with a Gini coefficient of time the Housing Department was for-
Rio de Janeiro in the 1980’s and 0.673 in 1990 (Cardoso and Lago, mally established, the housing policy of
Early 1990’s 1993). Throughout the decade, the pop- Rio de Janeiro had already been de-
With the election of Leonel Brizola as ulation living in favelas on the urban pe- cided upon and the design of Favela
the governor of the state of Rio in 1982, riphery grew by 50.7 percent (Lago, Bairro drawn up.
there was an accentuation of populist 1992) and in addition, there was a
policies in Rio, with massive pro- marked increase in violence within and
grammes to build schools and legalise around Rio’s favelas associated with the
land tenure. Whereas previous non-con- illegal trafficking of drugs and the vio- The Favela Bairro Concepts of
ventional housing initiatives in Rio had lent and repressive style of the police Poverty and the Poor
been small in scale and experimental in forces. Meanwhile, the National Move- The concept of poverty which informs
approach, the Brizola government ment for Urban Reform was influencing the Favela Bairro programme is, in ac-
launched a massive campaign to install the shape of the new Federal Constitu- cordance with the trend away from nar-
water and sewerage systems in all of tion of 1988, and for housing, new leg- row quantitative understandings, one
Rio’s favelas, and indeed nearly islative instruments were developed to which reflects the complex mix of needs,
250,000 people benefited. Even more improve housing conditions and above economic deprivation, cultural, physical
ambitious was the “Cada Família, Um all, establish local government control and social exclusion which charac-
Lote” land tenure legalisation pro- over land use. In Rio, the incom- terises living conditions in Rio’s favelas.
gramme that was designed not only to ing mayor embraced these challenges It is a reflection of both recent increases
legalise but also upgrade one million through a master plan and later, a in urban violence and poverty which
plots in favelas and illegal sub-divisions strategic plan for the city, recognising have witnessed the further stigmatisa-
throughout the state. Instead just under the need to address the low-income tion of Rio’s favelas by the mass media,
23,000 deeds were issued (Araujo, housing problem not through localised and of historical trends in Rio’s poverty
1988), and the upgrading of just two interventions but as part of an urban de- which have seen the poor concentrated
favelas was completed. Meanwhile, the velopment strategy for the whole city. To in specific types of settlement which
municipal government of Rio was also fulfil this objective the Municipal Hous- are easily identifiable as “for the poor”.
active in favelas during the 1980’s, ing Department (Secretaria Municipal Given that sharp divisions between the
through the Municipal Social Develop- de Habitação – SMH) was set up in poor and the better off have long char-
ment Department (SMDS) set up in 1993 with programmes to legalise sub- acterised the city of Rio, it is unsurpris-
1979 specifically to work with the low- divisions, issue land titles, encourage ing that the objectives of Favela Bairro
income population. In 1982 it launched the use of empty land for low-income centre on concepts such as social and
the “Projeto Mutirão” (Self-Help Project), housing, resettle those living in areas of physical inclusion and exclusion. Ac-
whereby community labour would un- natural risk, and upgrade the city’s fave- cording to one SMH official, for exam-
dertake limited upgrading work, espe- las (SMH, 1993). By 1994 there were ple, Favela Bairro “… is about enabling
cially of sanitation infrastructure. In ad- 661 favelas in the municipality, housing people to fulfil their dreams, it’s about
dition, the SMDS started building and nearly one million people (IBGE, 1994). giving a chance for people to have ac-
operating nursery schools in Rio’s fave- Many of the key staff involved in the cess to the city through which they can
DISP 147 51 2001

realise their aspirations … it is linked to vices and infrastructure. As such, Favela elderly, illiterate, youths and children,
immediate needs but goes far beyond Bairro does not seek out those who are as well as employment and income gen-
that to embrace new values and allow most vulnerable, try to understand the eration opportunities, but the basic in-
for the construction of new citizens.” condition of their poverty and address frastructure and services it installs ad-
Whilst the objectives of Favela Bairro it, but instead the programme treats dress some of the fundamental problems
are informed by a vision of an inte- favelas as relatively homogenous phe- suffered by the poor, with physical up-
grated city without sharp inequalities, nomena. grading having clear social benefits.
among the diverse actors in the pro- The weakness of the social compo- When the interviewees were asked
gramme there is understandable scepti- nents of Favela Bairro was a consistent about the ability of Favela Bairro to tar-
cism regarding the extent to which its criticism made by interviewees, com- get those households most in need of
projects can make that vision a reality. menting on its emphasis on physical up- support, there was widespread recogni-
According to the resident of one up- grading at the expense of addressing tion that Favela Bairro was limited in
graded favela, for example, his settle- the varying social, cultural and eco- this respect because its resources and
ment “… is now more integrated physi- nomic needs of favela residents. Thus, focus are primarily for the meeting of
cally with its surroundings, but it will al- while interviewees acknowledged the collective needs. For example, accord-
ways be a favela for those who live in- importance of improving local environ- ing to one member of the Grupo dos 16
side it and outside it. It takes a long time mental conditions, the ability of Favela (organisation of favela leaders), “I think
to change the way a community is seen, Bairro to fulfil its objectives of improving we would like it a lot if the needs of in-
the way its identity is perceived.” Thus income levels, access to employment, dividuals could be met, but under the
while much of the official language sur- and access to cultural facilities was per- methodology of Favela Bairro what
rounding the programme refers to con- ceived to be weak. For example, while is treated is the whole general context.
cepts such as citizenship, many inter- the income and employment generation Its purpose is not to improve the cir-
viewees recognised that favela residents programmes of Favela Bairro were, on cumstances of individuals, a particular
would only be citizens if they could ex- the one hand, perceived by a majority house or suchlike.” The nursery schools,
ercise, as well as know, their rights, and of interviewees to be essential and gen- community centres, sport facilities, train-
this would be a long and complex social erally working well, on the other hand, ing and literacy courses, co-operatives
and political process needing the for- they were said to be limited by their lack and kiosks are, however, aimed at ad-
mation of new values and attitudes on of resources and their inability to ad- dressing the needs of specific groups,
all sides. dress the structural causes of unemploy- and to take advantage of these social
Although Favela Bairro is founded ment and low wages at a city or na- projects residents have to meet certain
upon an understanding of poverty as a tional level. Thus, according to Ricardo criteria to establish their level of need.
complex social and cultural phenome- Gouvêa of Bento Rubião, “Everything to Thus, some targeting of resource alloca-
non, without entirely ignoring its eco- a certain extent reduces poverty, if you tion toward specific groups is evident,
nomic dimension, the programme does enable one person to sell sweets in a for example in the offering of places on
not display an explicit concern with un- street corner then you are reducing that basic literacy courses to the illiterate, or
derstanding how the poor as a diverse person’s poverty, but this won’t have of nursery school places to the children
group variously experience the condi- any kind of structural impact.” Never- of women-headed households. In addi-
tion of poverty. The original design of theless, the strengthening after 1997 of tion, according to interviews with favela
the programme was not a product of the income generation initiatives of residents and those working at the proj-
participatory research into the condi- Favela Bairro was widely praised and ect level, the resettling of households
tions and needs of favela residents, or the intentions of the Employment Depart- from areas of natural risk usually en-
even of a process of policy consultation ment (SMTb) were recognised by some sures that some of the poorest house-
involving community or non-government interviewees as serious, though their in- holds (which tend to congregate in the
groups. Instead, as mentioned above, ability to raise the income and employ- least desirable and most unsafe areas)
Favela Bairro was shaped by the expe- ment opportunities of more than a lucky benefit from new housing units or com-
riences of a small group of municipal of- few was also widely acknowledged. pensation to buy alternative secure
ficials whose work in Rio’s favelas dur- While Favela Bairro is more effective properties.
ing the 1980’s brought them into daily in meeting the collective needs of resi- By meeting the historical demands of
contact with the demands of favela resi- dents for services and infrastructure and Rio’s favela residents for basic infra-
dents for better sanitation infrastructure less so in targeting those with particular structure and services, according to
and public services. These demands in- needs, this does not imply that Favela one resident, Favela Bairro addresses
formed the basic character of Favela Bairro has no impact on the poverty “... everything that we in the popular
Bairro upgrading projects, with each within the favelas where it is imple- favela movement have ever wanted to
project sharing the aim of meeting the mented. Not only does the programme be done.” In addition, while Favela
needs of favela residents as a collective provide, albeit on an insufficient scale, Bairro may not pay explicit attention to
through the provision of collective ser- nursery school places, projects for the understanding who the poor are, in
DISP 147 52 2001

practice it does address the needs of wees as conspiring against the multisec- represented in a project, thus involving
some of the most vulnerable groups liv- toral nature of Favela Bairro projects. the way agents and actors participate in
ing in Rio’s favelas. For example, Luis Alberto Simões, one the process of decision-making and
of the architects responsible for the pro- management. Many of the interviewees
ject of Formiga favela, argued that the stressed the important role played by
Favela Bairro Projects and Policy as standardisation of project design private sector architectural practices,
Multisectoral favoured by the SMH undermined inno- and while there was considerable
When considering the components of vation and the tailoring of projects to praise for what they have achieved,
the physical upgrading work alone it is each community and their diverse widely held (including among the archi-
apparent that Favela Bairro projects are needs. He stated that “... it is unlikely tects themselves) was the view that their
multisectoral. There is, however, a wide- one could ever develop a model design role has been very problematic at times
ly held perception among the diverse and a model project in view of the het- and not always conducive to, or com-
actors involved in Favela Bairro that erogeneity of favelas and their some- patible with, an integrated approach.
physical upgrading on its own is not times extremely difficult locations. If one Lack of experience of working in favelas
enough, and that whilst upgrading can implements a standard project one ends at the scale of Favela Bairro and in a
improve quality of life, only education, up making alterations which are in fact multisectoral manner, lack of experience
training and income generation initia- deformations.” The quantity and quality of working in a participatory manner,
tives can ensure social development and of information available for project de- and bias towards a more design and
integration. At the start of the pro- sign was also criticised. Newton Ferraz, physical orientated approach, were
gramme the bias toward the upgrading General Co-ordinator of Ambiental en- some of the problems raised.
of the physical environment was encour- gineering firm, for example, commented Considering the multisectoral charac-
aged by the funding priorities of the In- that “... the survey material which in- ter of Favela Bairro at the policy level, in
ter-American Development Bank (IDB) forms the project design and planning is charge of the development and man-
and even when the bank was per- often poor, creating many construction agement of Favela Bairro is the SMH,
suaded to allocate resources for the con- problems and problems of co-ordination with its officials overseeing the project
struction of buildings for social projects, between the different components of a design stage, the upgrading work itself,
funds for the implementation of those project”. land regularisation, social policy, and
projects had to come from other Other problems experienced at the maintenance policy, amongst other func-
sources. In time, however, the social pol- project level and acting to undermine tions. During the project design phase,
icy components of Favela Bairro have the programme’s effectiveness were architectural practices work in consulta-
grown in strength, especially after the blamed on the time pressures inherent to tion with the favela residents to plan
establishment of the SMTb in 1997. Fur- Favela Bairro. One of the co-ordinators their projects and obtain community ap-
thermore, within the SMH the social pol- of projects at SMH considered that time proval. During the construction work,
icy team has also developed over time, pressures prevented the establishment of private construction firms, architects, en-
though it still remains comparatively the partnerships needed to strengthen gineering consultancy firms, utility com-
small. Indeed, according to the Man- the social components of Favela Bairro panies, and various government depart-
ager of Favela Bairro, “... the previous projects. Carmen Martins of the munici- ments are all present. Once upgrading
clientelistic way of working with favelas pal planning institute IPLANRIO (now is complete, the operation of the various
has created little interest in, or capacity known as the Pereira Passos Institute – social facilities Favela Bairro constructs
for, new approaches to social develop- IPP) believed that the speed with which is undertaken by a range of municipal
ment.” As a result, whilst Favela Bairro projects have to be planned prevents departments (most significantly the
projects are multisectoral in their combi- adequate assessment of the community SMTb and SMDS), who often subcon-
nation of the physical and the social, needs and tends to limit the possibilities tract local NGO’s. As such, the function
they still reveal a heavy bias toward the of a multisectoral approach. In addition of the SMH is to oversee and manage
physical. That bias is also further rein- the bidding procedures followed by the the programme, co-ordinating the range
forced during project implementation SMH have been criticised. The result is of actors, reporting to the IDB, and lob-
when the complex projects are imple- often the interruption of work while wait- bying other municipal departments to
mented in difficult environments, creat- ing for more funds, the reduction in get involved. For the latter it utilises two
ing a set of pressures and constraints quality and the dropping of some com- macro-policy forums (macrofunções), set
that militate against lengthy and difficult ponents of the project, affecting in this up to foster and institutionalise multisec-
processes of social development, and way the integrated balance of the inter- toral policymaking, and indeed, over
instead give architects and engineers vention. time, the SMH has succeeded in per-
control over the final shape of each pro- Multisectoriality at the project level suading some departments who had
ject. also concerns the relationships estab- never before worked in favelas to par-
Procedural and practical problems, lished between the various actors in- ticipate in Favela Bairro.
have been identified by many intervie- volved, as well as the range of sectors Despite the complex institutional ar-
DISP 147 53 2001

Phase Total number of Total number of Area affected

beneficiary beneficiaries (hectares)

Phase 1 15,058 55,251 158.40

Phase 2 28,782 97,825 247.30
Phase 3 25,386 83,945 298.29
Grand Total 69,226 237,021 703.99

rangements in place, Favela Bairro Source: SMH, 1999b

does not reveal an integrated approach

Table 1: Number of Beneficiaries from Phases
to policy formulation or implementation
1–3 of Favela Bairro
which would involve a range of govern-
ment departments in the common fi-
nancing, planning, implementation and
management of all aspects of the pro-
gramme. Instead, with some depart-
ments (for example, Culture, Urban Af- during which another 66 favelas will be vision of how the city should be and
fairs, and Environment), the SMH has a upgraded, but while Favela Bairro is un- how the upgrading of favelas can con-
relation of co-operation, whilst with oth- derway in a large number of settle- tribute to that vision. In Rio, there has al-
ers (SMTb and SMDS), the relationship ments, due to delays experienced dur- ways been a tendency to see the favelas
is closer and can be described as one of ing the initial phases of the programme, in terms of their impact upon the rest of
co-ordination. In other words, the SMH upgrading was complete in only 12 that city and the middle classes, but that
remains firmly in control of all aspects of favelas by mid-1999. Table 1 reveals impact has nearly always been inter-
Favela Bairro, driving the search for the number of people and households preted (especially by the press) as neg-
new partners within the municipal gov- affected in each of the previous three ative. What Favela Bairro is now at-
ernment, but at the same time keeping phases, with the first phase concentrat- tempting to do is redefine that relation-
firm hold of the ownership of the pro- ing primarily upon relatively simple and ship to make it positive, to redefine the
gramme. According to one SMH offi- consolidated favelas of around one perceptions the (economically, socially,
cial, “… through the SMH control over thousand households, and with the sub- culturally and geographically) divided
housing policy is centralised, control sequent phases covering larger and sides of the city have of each other. In
over the housing budget is centralised, more complicated settlements. this way, Favela Bairro should be under-
but the execution of policy is decen- According to the academic Reiner stood “… in the context of increases in
tralised, though the definitions and the Randolph of IPPUR/UFRJ, the “... most the favela population, violence and
decisions regarding projects are always notable feature of Favela Bairro, in con- crime, growing poverty and unemploy-
taken within the SMH.” trast with previous approaches, is its ment, the realisation that you couldn’t
While the SMH can be criticised for scale.” What has been achieved by improve the city without improving the
failing to share (political) power to the Favela Bairro is already more ambitious favelas, and a new way of thinking as il-
extent it could, it must also be recog- and of a larger scale than anything lustrated by the Master Plan that
nised that in terms of previous housing which has been done before in Rio or, stressed the need to build bridges be-
initiatives, Favela Bairro demonstrates indeed, anywhere else in Brazil. While tween different groups in society” (SMH
the involvement of a broader range of the fully finished projects are few, the official). Favela Bairro had a consider-
actors than ever seen before in Rio. The number of favelas where Favela Bairro able effect in changing the perception
prevalent culture within the government is underway is very large. This is espe- of favelas in the city, for “Favela Bairro
still favours single-sector planning and cially impressive given that this has hap- forced the city as a whole to take a po-
intervention, and there was also criti- pened over the relatively short period of sition in relation to the subject of favelas
cism of some departments who have five years. and in relation to a policy which in-
never catered for the favela population Scale in Favela Bairro is not, how- volves a considerable amount of fiscal
and remain reluctant to do so as a mat- ever, merely a question of numbers of resources” (IBASE).
ter of principle. According to one SMH projects. While the programme demon- Perceived to contribute greatly to so-
official, “… to achieve internal integra- strates a strong commitment to the proj- cial change and integration is the shift
tion within the public sector is very com- ect as a means to directly tackle the in the conduct of the drug trade that
plex; there are many conflicts which ba- problems of the poor, its objective goes Favela Bairro aims to achieve. This ob-
sically boil down to conflicts of power”, beyond improving living conditions for jective does not appear among the offi-
while according to another, “... what ex- favela residents to embrace the broader cially declared aims of the programme,
ists is the idea of integration but there is city-scale objective of social integration. but nevertheless was declared to be one
resistance to it at all levels and nobody As such, Favela Bairro illustrates an in- of the priorities of Favela Bairro by SMH
has been able to break down the barri- terpretation of scale that embraces a vi- staff and other actors. According to
ers that prevent true integration”. sion of the city as a vehicle for the inte- Favela Bairro founder Márcia Coutinho,
gration of a substantial proportion of for example, “To my mind it isn’t urban
the population that has long been seg- projects that integrate society, they can
Scale and City Integration regated and excluded. Leaving aside
By mid-1999 Favela Bairro was opera- Favela Bairro’s actual ability to foster
tional in 82 medium-sized favelas. The physical and social integration, what
programme is now in its fourth phase, the programme demonstrates is a strong Continued on page 56
DISP 147 54 2001

Fernão Cardim receive donations of food. Finally the Asso- their homes further. In general, those inter-
ciation has also acquired the financial back- viewed in Fernão Cardim expressed their
Fernão Cardim is a favela located on flat ing of the British Consulate in Rio for pur- satisfaction with the results of Favela Bairro,
land in the neighbourhood of Inhaúma in the chase equipment for the sewing co-opera- describing the settlement as being more inte-
Engenho de Dentro area in the north of Rio tive. grated with the surrounding neighbourhood.
de Janeiro. It has a population of 3,183 res- According to interviews conducted with Indeed, according to one resident, “Now as
idents or 875 households, and occupies an members of the Residents’ Association, other a result of Favela Bairro the residents have
area of 4.5 hectares. The settlement was community groups, and residents of Fernão duties as well as rights, for example they
established in 1951 when the area was still Cardim, most residents were at first sceptical have to get rid of their illegal electricity con-
rural. Over the years the Residents’ Associa- about the intervention of the government nections, but when they start paying taxes
tion of Fernão Cardim undertook basic through Favela Bairro, believing that it they will have the right to complain about
upgrading work with support from various would not happen. Plans for the settlement services and ask for better ones. Favela Bair-
governmental and non-governmental foun- also generated controversy, especially re- ro leads to mutual agreement between resi-
dations and agencies, private companies, garding the resettlement of those families liv- dents and the state, turning residents into
the Catholic Church, the SMDS (through the ing along the banks of the river. normal citizens, like the rest of the popula-
Projeto Mutirão), and the state government However, when work got underway it was tion.” Nevertheless, it was acknowledged
(through the Cada Família Um Lote regulari- reported that residents became more enthu- that changing the identity of an irregular
sation programme, and through the Pro-San- siastic and took more interest in the project. settlement is not a simple process, with one
ear sanitation upgrading programme). During the development of the project plans, residents declaring “It takes a long time to
When the Favela Bairro programme was however, the architects worked mainly with change the way a community is seen, the
first presented to the community in 1995, 95 the Residents’ Association, and it took PAA way its identity is perceived. However, peo-
percent of the houses in Fernão Cardim were around 6 months to develop the intervention ple’s language has changed and nobody
made from brick, and 5 percent from wood. plan for the residents to approve. It was now talks about Fernão Cardim as a favela
Most of the latter were located along the reported that the wider participation by resi- but instead as a neighbourhood.”
banks of the Faria Timbó river that flooded dents was neither encouraged nor discour-
the settlement regularily. Land in the settle- aged by the Residents’ Association and the
ment was under municipal ownership with a architects, with individual residents deciding
small part being privately owned. The sur- whether or not to take an active role in the
rounding neighbourhood is characterised by planning phase, and most of them deciding
commercial/industrial enterprises and a hos- not to become involved. With the upgrading
pital nearby. Like many favelas, Fernão of Fernão Cardim now complete, most of
Cardim had just one access road to the those interviewed reported that Favela Bair-
community, a characteristic imposed by the ro had indeed met the priority needs of the
local drug traffickers for their own protec- community, especially with the channelling
tion, and Fernão Cardim also suffered from of the river. However, the income generation
high levels of violence associated with the activities in the settlement were regarded as
drug traffic. inadequate and unemployment was report-
Fernão Cardim was included in Phase 1 ed to be high in the settlement. Indeed, it
of the Favela Bairro programme and was was reported that the SMTb IT courses and
one of the first projects to be finished, and first grade education course had folded,
the only settlement to date to have its land though the sewing co-operative provides
tenure fully regularised. The project was employment for 16 people and the kiosks
designed by architects from the firm Planeja- built at the entrance to the settlement are
mento Arquitetônico e Ambiental (PAA). The regarded as successful. Also regarded as
development of the project plans costed Rs problematic is the quality of the sewerage
120,445, and the upgrading work itself Rs system laid, with reports of blockages being
5,334,981. The project included: improved common, though CEDAE now employs two
access (through opening new roads and community workers to ensure the system
widening existing lanes); the channelling of functions smoothly. Continuity of resources
the river (with non-Favela Bairro funds) and for the operation of the social projects of
upgrading of surrounding areas; a new Favela Bairro was also highlighted as a
block of 22 flats for those needing to be problem, especially with regard to sports
resettled; the reform of the community square and leisure activities, and a community cen-
and football pitch; the building of a new tre that appeared in the project plans was
sports area; installation of leisure equip- never built though residents could not
ment; the construction of a nursery school explain why.
and sewing co-operative; installation of sew- It was acknowledged that one area of the
erage, water and drainage systems, rubbish settlement, that located on private land, had
collection and public lighting; the planting of benefited less from Favela Bairro than the
trees and installation of street furniture; rest of the community, this also being the
building of kiosks and a POUSO; the imple- area where the cancelled community centre
mentation of various IT and training courses; was due to be built. In addition, it was
and the installation of public telephones. The reported that house prices have risen con- Fig. 1: The river that used to flood Fernão
Residents’ Association has also been suc- siderably since Favela Bairro was complet- Cardim, now channeled.
cessful in working with the near-by shopping ed, with average house prices reported to
Fig. 2: The main square reformed by Favela
mall, thereby accessing resources for reform be around Rs 25,000, though it was
of the Association building and the opening observed that very few people had left the
of a health clinic on the premises, and from settlement. Many people were also said to Fig. 3: The kiosks built on the edge of the
a nearby supermarket and McDonald’s they be undertaking construction work to improve settlement.
DISP 147 55 2001

The Mangueira Complex and the resettlement of more residents (ini- reform of the police services is taking place,
tially it was thought around 200 households thereby exposing residents to the danger of
Mangueira is in the north zone of Rio de would have to be resettled but this figure has further police repression. Finally, while it
Janeiro, not far from the Maracanã football now risen to around 400). Such changes to was acknowledged that the very poor on the
stadium, and is famous for its samba club. the project led financial resources to run out hillside are benefiting from Favela Bairro
Made up of 4 favelas (Morro dos Telégrafos, (though there are also allegations made of through their resettlement in the new blocks
Candelária, Chalé and Olaria), it is collec- fraud), and thus the project came to a stand- of flats, representatives of the local residents’
tively known as the Mangueira complex. The still. associations called for Favela Bairro to
total population of the 4 favelas at the start While the project has been paralysed, the invest more in educational, health and cul-
of Favela Bairro was 17,308 or 4,229 SMH supervisor of the project was replaced tural facilities, and also suggested that the
households, settled over an area of 26.8 and a management consultancy firm con- residents’ associations themselves should be
hectares. As such, the Mangueira complex is tracted to oversee the remainder of the work. directly strengthened by Favela Bairro
one of the largest squatter areas to be tack- To date water and sewerage work has been through the payment of association staff who
led by Favela Bairro, and it has presented undertaken, 5 nursery schools are being generally work on a voluntary basis.
numerous problems for the Housing Depart- built or reformed, a sports area has been fin-
ment, including technical difficulties, finan- ished and blocks of flats have been built to
cial problems, and conflict with the local resettle residents. Supplementary funds are,
communities. The project planning stage however, being made available to finish the
took around 8 months to complete and was project, with access roads, paving, income
undertaken by the architects Paulo Casé and generation centres, additional housing, a
Luiz Aciloi from the firm Arquitetos Associa- POUSO, and reforestation work still to be
dos Ltd at a cost of Rs 552,006. While undertaken.
Mangueira was included in Phase 2 of The paralysis of Favela Bairro in
Favela Bairro, with the programme now Mangueira has not helped relations with the
being in Phase 4, like Formiga, the project community. At the time of the research, for
remains far from complete, and to date example, the SMH and site officials were at
resources assigned to the upgrading work loggerheads with residents over the develop-
amount to Rs 14,709,029. ment of an area of land bought by the muni-
The architects of the project reported that cipal government and where more replace-
they developed their initial plans for the com- ment housing is to be built. In contrast the
munity on the basis of 3 or 4 visits to the local residents are demanding that the land
favela, and complained that very few resi- be used for another football pitch, to add to
dents understood what the upgrading pro- that already laid by Favela Bairro a little
ject was about. Indeed the final project way up the hillside. The need for constant
included around 400 plans and the additions to the list of houses needing to be
community “... would look at the plans and demolished has also fostered the perception
not see anything” (Paulo Casé). The space that Favela Bairro aims to rehouse all those
for community participation in the develop- living in dangerous houses, resulting in con-
ment of the project was also criticised by the flict and dissatisfaction because this is not
residents’ associations of the 4 favelas who the case. Those houses not included on the
complained that their influence was limited, demolition list but judged by their occupants
that the project does not correspond to the to be dangerous should instead be covered
needs and demands of residents, and that by the Morar Sem Risco programme, but to
the officials only listen to the community enter that programme involves houses being
when residents refuse to co-operate and assessed by the Civil Defense Service, a
cause problems. Indeed, according to the process that is reported to be slow and
president of one of the Residents’ Associa- bureaucratic. Finally, delays to the project
tions, “The people from the SMH give us have exacerbated the scepticism of resi-
what they think we need, but they don’t live dents, for example, according to the Presi-
here. You need to live here to know what is dent of the Residents’ Association of Can-
needed”. delária, “The Favela Bairro project is good,
The technical and financial problems it is necessary, but it keeps on stopping ...
experienced during the initial phase of the We don’t want the project to end here
construction work in Mangueira led to the because we need it, but we do want the
suspension of the project and at the time of problems to be acknowledged. Every time
the research, the upgrading work had not they start a job and don’t finish it the com-
yet been restarted. Technically, the topo- munity gets more disillusioned ... I want
graphical survey work undertaken in Favela Bairro to do what is best for us and
Mangueira did not uncover the many physi- not to treat the whole project as a package.”
cal problems that later plagued the construc- The residents of the Mangueira complex
tion work, causing delays and forcing alter- and their community representatives com-
ations in project plans to be essential. The plained that to date the quality of work done
soil cover on the hillside, for example, is and materials used by Favela Bairro were
rarely more than 2 metres deep and below poor, especially with regard to the sewerage Fig. 1: Part of the Mangeira complex with
that are layers of rock and huge deposits of system laid. There were also concerns raised the new housing on the right of the photo.
compacted rubbish. As such the construction about the ability of residents to pay new util-
Fig. 2: The new housing blocks built for
work itself has led to the destabilisation of ity bills and taxes, and it was observed that
essential resettlement.
the hillside, leading to changes in plans, the while Favela Bairro opens up the settlement
need for more geological engineering work, to facilitate the access of the police, no Fig. 3: The sports field and facilities.
DISP 147 56 2001

facilitate circulation, but that is all. If you and the formal city was also questioned ted to – and reinforced by – isolated
don’t confront the drug traffickers in a on other grounds by several intervie- and small scale projects. It is clear that
determined way, integration will not wees. While recognising the ability of scale and integration are strongly re-
happen.” Similarly, the Favela Bairro Favela Bairro to reduce some of the lated and interdependent but while the
Manager declared that “The most im- physical barriers between favelas and approach and ambitions of Favela
portant negative impact of the favelas the city, the architect Luis Alberto Bairro are quite clear in this respect, the
on the rest of the city comes from the vi- Simões, for example, declared “… this achievements are still debatable.
olence of the drug trade” and hence dis- discourse about integration is compli-
arming of drug traffickers through the cated because physical integration can-
transformation of the built environment not bring about social integration. We Design and Use of Public Space in
leads to reformed behaviour of traffick- try to give the physical upgrading the Favela Bairro
ers and police, with immediate benefits right characteristics that will facilitate in- In operationalising the objective of so-
in both the favelas and the rest of the tegration, but you don’t directly bring cial integration, Favela Bairro reveals a
city. This “... reduction of violence about integration through construction strong reliance on the role that public
through the establishment of the urban work.” Interviewees living in favelas space can play in bringing people
order” (Maria Lúcia Petersen) thus also questioned the idea that upgrading together, stressing the importance of
emerges as one of the most important alone could bring integration. From quality design and architecture. Public
components of Favela Bairro in terms of Formiga favela, Pastor Sebastião, for space is used by Favela Bairro as the
its objective of integrating the favelas example, argued that real integration main means to ensure that projects have
and the city. demands cultural change, and that an impact on their surrounding neigh-
The potential of Favela Bairro to di- while it is possible to rename favelas as bourhoods and on the city as a whole.
minish the power and violence of the neighbourhoods, it was not possible to New roads, squares, building and facil-
drug trade was, nevertheless, ques- change what they are. ities are designed to break down the
tioned by many interviewees. Accord- The viability of integration was not barriers that have long divided favelas
ing to the academic Maria Alice only questioned on conceptual grounds, from the rest of the city, ultimately en-
Rezende from IUPERJ, the programme but also for practical reasons. Those liv- abling people who have never before
cannot bring about fundamental change ing in favelas affected by Favela Bairro entered a favela to drive through the set-
because the Brazilian police forces raised the problem of the affordability tlements, visit cultural events in the fave-
were untouched by the constitutional re- of new charges for utility services and las, or make use of their commerce. It is
forms of 1988 and still reflect the tactics new taxes. For example, Carlos, from also important to stress that the barriers
and structures of the era of dictatorship. one of the residents’ associations of the between the favelas and the rest of the
This concern was also echoed by those Mangueira complex argued that “If city are not just social, based on preju-
living and working in Rio’s favelas. Ri- Favela Bairro has really come here to dice and fear, but also physical and the
cardo Gouvêa of Bento Rubião NGO improve living conditions but also to result of drug traffickers erecting walls
declared that public security “… is a charge us for it so as to turn Mangueira and other obstacles to protect their terri-
strong motive for turning favelas into into a neighbourhood, you have to re- tory from the police and rival gangs,
neighbourhoods, not from the point of member that the majority of us only earn thereby isolating residents from the city
view of citizenship but instead to let po- about two minimum salaries.” and the city from the favelas. Such bar-
lice cars enter the favelas.” Similarly, The city is an effective level for plan- riers, according to Favela Bairro’s Man-
Celso from Mangueira, said “Favela ning and policymaking; assessing and ager, “… reinforce their identity as fave-
Bairro ... is based on a great idea, to re- addressing the needs of the city in an in- las,” and so public space is used by the
inforce the citizenship rights we have, tegrated fashion is crucial in order to programme as both a symbolic and
but not to repress us. We need roads to prevent the further segregation of the practical mechanism to generate physi-
enable access by ambulances, com- poor from the non-poor. Interventions of cal and social integration.
merce, rubbish trucks and such like, but a sufficient size ensure a more efficient In addition, and just as importantly,
not just to enable police repression”. use of resources as economies of scale architecture, design and public space
Thus while Favela Bairro’s intervention are reached, with these savings not only serve as one of the central means to in-
in public spaces, removing barriers and being financial, but also in terms of the troduce physical and social change into
making new places from communal use time and skills devoted to planning and the favelas themselves, introducing sym-
may lead the local drug traffickers to re- implementing policies and programmes. bols of the formal city and of the state
treat and be less visible, the ability of More importantly in terms of poverty al- into environments whose layout and
Favela Bairro to change the conduct of leviation, however, is the idea that inter- structures have their own spatial and
the police (who remain under state con- ventions at the city scale can reduce the cultural history. New roads are intended
trol) is limited. disparities between rich and poor areas to improve access for the emergency
The viability of Favela Bairro actually of the city, avoiding the danger of the services, access for commerce and es-
achieving integration between favelas growing segregation which is associa- sential public services; new social facili-
DISP 147 57 2001

ties and services are intended to make in 1994, an open competition was have been particularly advantageous
residents re-evaluate their opinion of the launched to which architects could sub- for the larger urban municipalities, such
state and of themselves as citizens enti- mit ideas and principles to serve as a as Rio. In securing loans from the IDB,
tled to equal treatment; and new com- basis for the development of Favela the SMH was thus able to capitalise
munity spaces are intended as a means Bairro. This consultation process did upon the mood for urban reform and the
to diminish the domain of the drug traf- not, however, involve non-government new legislative mechanisms in place to
fickers. These objectives are not, how- or community groups and once the prin- integrate city planning. The two macro-
ever, without their critics. For example ciples of the programme were estab- funções, established by the municipal
some residents worry that the new roads lished, the further involvement of the ar- government, provide the most visible in-
and public spaces created by Favela chitects was through contract tenders for stance of institutional reform to encour-
Bairro will not diminish the power of individual upgrading projects. age multisectoral planning and policy-
drug traffickers and instead only serve In order to implement comprehensive making within the government, and to
to increase police repression of innocent upgrading projects, the SMH needs some extent they have been effective.
residents by improving access to their other government and non-government The financial and political clout of
homes. Others raise the broader issue actors to work at such a large scale. Favela Bairro has made it possible for
of whether the spatial and physical Nevertheless, it cannot be said that this the SMH to persuade a wide range of
logic and symbols of the formal city pragmatism alone motivates the SMH to municipal actors to work with the pro-
could or should be introduced into fave- work with other agencies, for it also re- gramme, some of which have become
las, suggesting the need for favelas to flects the broader Favela Bairro objec- its close allies, sharing the SMH’s vision
preserve their own distinctive identities tive of city integration. Thus, partner- of the city and concern with the poor. In
and cultures. Thus Favela Bairro raises ships in Favela Bairro are seen by the addition, Favela Bairro has utilised the
the question of how to integrate and up- SMH not only as a means to capture legislative reforms regarding the status
grade the favelas without destroying much needed extra resources, but also of favelas, enabling them to be de-
those characteristics which have given as a means to bring about social clared “zones of special interest” and
favelas their distinctive identity. change in the city. According to one of- therefore exempt from normal planning
ficial, “Favela Bairro tries to establish regulations.
partnerships both with the public sector As such, it can be seen that the state
Public-private Partnerships in as much as with NGO’s and private reforms since the late 1980’s have been
Favela Bairro companies because we have to involve critical to both the development and im-
Regarding evidence of partnerships in society as a whole in a proposal for the plementation of Favela Bairro, creating
Favela Bairro, the tight control exercised development of social processes within an environment conducive to more inno-
by the SMH over the programme also the favelas.” The ideal of establishing vative planning. Similarly, the reforms
affects the involvement of private, non- partnerships, therefore, is motivated by undertaken have enabled some syner-
government and community actors in more than pragmatism, and when ex- gies to begin to emerge whereby multi-
the programme. At the project level, all plaining the nature of the partnerships sectoral approaches at both project and
these actors are evident in the favelas, thus far formed in Favela Bairro, it policy levels have been possible, re-
with the private sector being especially should also be remembered that historic- sponding to the multiple facets of pov-
involved in project planning and con- ally relations between NGO’s and the erty and exclusion in Rio, reinforcing the
struction work, non-governmental organ- government in Rio have been charac- need for greater involvement of private
isations being contracted by various mu- terised by mutual suspicion and lack of sector enterprises and NGO’s and thus
nicipal departments to implement social trust, and regarding the private sector, also reinforcing the ability of Favela
projects, and the community exerting there is no strong tradition of philan- Bairro to work at scale. This is not to say
some influence over the direction of thropy in the city. that the regulatory and legislative frame-
projects. Nevertheless, at neither the works in Rio are entirely sympathetic to
project or programme level can such in- the workings of Favela Bairro, for exam-
volvement be conceptualised as a part- Favela Bairro in the Context ple, rules governing tenders and con-
nership if that term is understood as of State Reform tracts stipulate that those firms who enter
meaning joint decision-making, man- Processes of institutional and legislative with the lowest bid have to be granted
agement, and risk taking. In terms of the reform, evidenced on paper in the city’s construction contracts, and this can later
private and non-governmental sectors, Master Plan and Strategic Plan, have prejudice the quality and quantity of the
their involvement in Favela Bairro is made it possible for the SMH to imple- work undertaken. There is, however, ev-
through contractual arrangements, with ment an upgrading programme on idence of some flexibility to experiment
each delivering a particular service in a scale never before seen in Rio (or with regards to land tenure regularisa-
return for a fee. The exception to this elsewhere in Brazil). The 1988 Federal tion, with special norms being devel-
was the initial involvement of the archi- Constitution gave municipalities new oped to enable long-term rights of use to
tectural practices in Favela Bairro, when policymaking and fiscal powers, which be granted to favela residents, thereby
DISP 147 58 2001

avoiding the complex and bureaucratic proach to community participation, with associations too powerful for the state to
procedures which govern the granting the latter being the product of different ignore and yet, in many cases, repres-
of freehold titles. architectural practices having different sive, undemocratic and unrepresenta-
approaches to involving the community. tive of their communities (see, for exam-
Participation in Favela Bairro and The limited scope of, and importance at- ple: Leeds, 1998; and Zaluar, 1998).
the Democratisation of the State tached to, community participation is a According to one of Rio’s NGO’s, for
Perhaps the weakest area of state re- reflection of the utilitarian and prag- example, “... the power of the drug traf-
form concerns the democratisation of matic objectives that initially motivated fickers and the fear of the middle classes
governance in Rio. Brazil as a whole the inclusion of mechanisms for partici- have prevented the residents’ associa-
only returned to democratic government pation in Favela Bairro. At the outset of tions from becoming legitimate partici-
in the mid-1980’s, and despite Brazil’s the programme, participation was for pants in policymaking.” Hence the re-
impressive record of government decen- the purposes of ensuring the co-opera- cent changes in the methodology for
tralisation, the state remains extremely tion of residents and thereby the suc- participation also reflect a desire on the
powerful and top-down in its approach cessful implementation of projects. Ac- part of the authorities to generate new
to government. In Favela Bairro this is cording to one SMH official, “... partici- community organisations (block commit-
reflected throughout the programme, pation in Favela Bairro was conceived tees) which are not dominated by the
both in its formulation (with no consulta- as a way to consolidate the projects drug trade.
tion with local NGO’s or community rather than an end in itself.” In time, Given that attitudes in Rio’s municipal
groups and no research to capture resi- however, the purpose of participation government toward community partici-
dents’ perceptions of their problems and has shifted as the social policy team of pation remain dominated by suspicion
their needs) and its implementation. At the SMH has gained credence and po- and scepticism, coupled with the prob-
the project level, residents are sched- litical strength. Now, according to the lems and conflicts experienced on the
uled to have an initial input to their local Favela Bairro Manager, the aim of com- ground during the implementation of
project during the project planning munity participation is both “... to Favela Bairro projects, it is unsurprising
stage through consultations with archi- change people’s behaviour, developing that there is little popular pressure for
tects, and the final plans for a project citizenship ... [and] to ensure the sus- greater democratisation of government
have also to be approved at a general tainability of the upgrading done by en- in Rio. Institutional reforms within the
meeting of residents before upgrading couraging the community to maintain municipal government have not em-
can go ahead. In reality, however, it it.” This shift away from the purely prag- braced the establishment of permanent
was reported that the interest of resi- matic is reflected in new methods for mechanisms for the sharing of power
dents is generally only aroused once the participation that were put in place in with civil society. The strong culture of
upgrading gets underway and directly 1999, including dividing the favelas authoritarianism in Rio, the infiltration of
affects their lives. Instead it tends to be into blocks, each with an elected repre- favela residents’ associations by the
the residents’ association of each favela sentative to attend thematic workshops drug trade, and the political manipula-
that dominates negotiations with archi- to raise residents’ needs and problems tion and co-option of community organi-
tects, construction firms, supervisors and before any project work gets underway. sations, have not favoured the emer-
the SMH, with the widely held percep- Despite this shift toward a greater gence of any trend toward democratisa-
tion that favela residents do not have the awareness of the value community par- tion and the devolution of power to civil
capacity to understand the upgrading ticipation can add to projects, all the ac- society. According to one of Rio’s
plans as presented by the architects. As tors in Favela Bairro (including the com- NGO’s, the culture of authoritarianism
a result, much of the involvement of resi- munity) reveal some reluctance to ac- in Rio “… permeates all levels and all
dents in Favela Bairro concerns individ- cept the capacity of favela residents to groups of society, politicians, policy-
uals approaching their associations and make strategic decisions that affect the makers, technicians, intellectuals, and
site supervisors to express their con- operation of the projects and the pro- the popular organisations and their
cerns and wishes only once construction gramme as a whole. This has to be un- leaders.” Nevertheless, there is evi-
is underway. This process is also facili- derstood within the context of a consis- dence that Favela Bairro has spawned
tated by a number of residents who are tent undermining of community organi- some desire on the part of favela organ-
selected and trained by the SMH to act sations and their manipulation for politi- isations for greater decision-making
as Housing Policy Agents, liaising be- cal ends over a period of decades, powers. Early on in the programme the
tween the SMH, site construction offices, thereby undermining community confi- presidents of 16 residents’ associations
residents and the residents’ associations dence and capacity for organisation, as of favelas covered by Phase 1 of Favela
during the construction phase, and also well as residents’ trust in the state. Cru- Bairro established an informal group
educating favela residents on their cial has also been the rising power of (Grupo de 16) to pressure the SMH into
rights as “citizens”. the violent drug trade in Rio, which di- considering problems of long-term main-
What Favela Bairro projects demon- rectly or indirectly infiltrates community tenance of Favela Bairro infrastructure
strate is both a limited and uneven ap- organisations, making favela residents’ and services. In time, however, and re-
DISP 147 59 2001

flecting very clearly the problems sur- meates all aspects of the programme, participation and political democratisa-
rounding participation and democrati- for example, undermining the ability of tion.
sation in Rio, the group has developed projects to satisfy the demands of resi-
increasingly close ties with the SMH and dents, undermining the efficacy and
has been criticised for undermining its speed of the construction work, and Notes
independence and critical powers. threatening the prospects of long-term
The paper is based on the findings of a re-
maintenance of infrastructure and ser-
search funded by the UK government’s De-
vices. Most serious, however, is the gap
partment for International Development
Conclusions it reveals between the Favela Bairro ob- (DFID), however, the views and opinions ex-
In the context of Rio de Janeiro, where jectives of uniting an unequal city and pressed here are those of the authors alone.
100 years of government policy have strengthening the citizenship of favela [1] During the research, undertaken in 1999-
failed to rid the city of the inequality and residents, and the practice of failing to 2000, a total of 39 people were interviewed
poverty manifest in its favelas, Favela give those same residents access to real in Rio, including staff of a range of municipal
Bairro represents a considerable ad- decision-making powers. Favela Bairro departments and private sector companies,
vance in approach. The programme is will doubtless lead to real improvements community leaders and residents, architects
based on a recognition of the impor- in the lives of favela residents, giving and planners, and NGO workers.
[2] Favela Bairro spends a maximum of US$
tance of social and physical exclusion them access to a wider range of ser-
4,000 per household. The majority of these
and inequality in Rio, also targeting vices and infrastructure than ever be-
costs (60 percent) are covered by the IDB,
some of its resources at particularly vul- fore. As it currently stands, however, the with the remainder coming from municipal
nerable groups. It reveals a strong com- programme misses the opportunity to sources. In addition, implementation of the
mitment to multisectoral projects as a act as a catalyst for broader processes social projects are funded by the individual
means to directly impact upon the lives of democratisation which are essential municipal department concerned (sometimes
of the poor and their heterogeneous not only to the implementation of suc- with backing from the federal government,
needs, with much emphasis being cessful projects but also, and above all, private foundations and suchlike), though
placed on public space, architecture to ensure the continuity of the policy and Favela Bairro resources pay for the construc-
and design as vehicles for social inte- long-term sustainable and substantive tion of the buildings in which those services
gration. Perhaps most impressive of all, poverty reduction. The recent change in are delivered. Similarly, for large undertak-
ings that occasionally form part of Favela
it is being implemented at a huge scale the city administration will test the
Bairro projects, such as channelling rivers,
and is informed by a vision of an inte- strength of the social processes under-
resources may come from the budgets of
grated city where historic disparities be- pinning the programme. other departments and programmes. Backing
tween rich and poor are reduced. Perhaps one of the very important from private companies is also sought for
The programme is, of course, marked contributions of the Favela Bairro pro- specific activities associated with individual
by a number of contradictions and prac- gramme – contradicting in some ways projects, and local (private or public) land
tical problems. However, of particular its own name – has been to help to con- owners are encouraged to relinquish areas
relevance to the international poverty solidate the perception that favelas are for use by Favela Bairro with no compensa-
debate is Favela Bairro’s approach to a different but integral part of the city; tion.
community participation. Participation, indeed, that they are neighbourhoods/
as currently internationally advocated barrios, albeit in need of improvement.
and understood, should serve not only Rather than extending the formal city
to improve the operation of projects but and its regulations into the irregular
also empower the poor and act as a cat- spaces of “non-city”, the challenge for References
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