At a press conference with Rio de Janeiro State Governor Sergio Cabral and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff it was announced that 8,000 new homes will be constructed free of charge for those worst affected by the devastating flooding and landslides this January. The state and federal government will cover the cost of 6,000 of these homes with a consortium of 12 construction companies donating an additional 2,000.
The Brazilian government is also allocating $60m for the extensive reconstruction efforts and $6.6bn for flood prevention work. Flooding and landslides in Rio de Janeiro have claimed over 830 lives with 540 people still unaccounted for, spawning fears that the mortality figure is set to rise dramatically. At the conference President Rousseff explained that approximately 20,000 people have lost either homes or family members over the last few weeks, relating: “Their pain is insurmountable, and their loss has no price, but this initiative can improve the situation a little.”
This is not the first time that Brazil has experienced such destruction at the hands of a natural disaster. Last April, Rio de Janeiro suffered widespread flooding and mudslides, with shanty towns and favelas on the state’s edge hit the hardest. Damage is thought to have cost in the region of $13bn. In 2009, heavy rains caused extensive flooding and immense landslides throughout five Northeastern States, leaving 39 people dead and 270,000 homeless. The Brazilian government has now pledged to crack down on unauthorised building in areas most at risk from flooding and landslides.