The Impact of the Pandemic on Cidade de Deus
On March 21, 2020, Cidade de Deus had its first case of coronavirus, being the first favela in Rio de Janeiro with the virus. In June, it was the favela with the highest rate of COVID-19 among the neighborhoods surveyed by IBGE, with 28% of the sample testing positive. In addition to severe illness and death, the pandemic has had great impacts on residents: loss of work and income, hunger and lack of medical care, difficulties in accessing online classes and conflicts between family members, among others. However, little data has captured these impacts in a systematic and quantitative way. Our research has relied on guidance from local service providers and residents to identify the major physical, mental, economic and social impacts of the pandemic in Cidade de Deus. We hope this data will help prevent the spread of coronavirus, identify the most urgent issues in need of attention, and provide data necessary for service providers to demand more funding from the state.
In October 2020, we held an online forum with representatives of 15 local NGOs which provided critical assistance to residents most affected by the pandemic. Forum participants, most of whom are also residents of Cidade de Deus, have directly seen the impact of the pandemic, especially on needy families, children and adolescents, the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses.
During the forum, participants discussed which difficulties were the most serious, and which information would be most important to capture. Forum participants continued to offer advice throughout the other stages of the research project.
Forum with Service Providers
Collection of Stories
In the second phase, which took place in October and November 2020, we collected stories from local residents about how the pandemic affected their lives. With the help of the Facebook page CDD Acontece, we have released a link where residents (over 18 years old) could anonymously upload their stories.
Each participant could share whatever they wanted. This included how the pandemic affected physical and mental health, economic situation, education, work, family relationships, the public and social environment or any other issue that was of great concern to them.
The themes emerging from these stories were used to develop the questions for a survey.
Survey Data Collection
In February and March 2021, we distributed the link to a questionnaire with questions related to the most common and urgent topics raised in the residents' stories. The questions focused on the various physical, economic and social impacts of the pandemic on the residents of Cidade de Deus.
The questionnaire was compiled with input from representatives of local NGOs and other residents to ensure that the questions and answer options captured the lived experience of local residents.
After sharing the link to the survey on dozens of social media sites, we received a total of 648 responses, broadly representative of the geographic and racial distribution of the neighborhood.
Dissemination of Findings
In March, we presented preliminary findings from the survey to a group of local NGO representatives. We decided together that a report on the economic impacts of the pandemic was the best way to disseminate the most urgent findings. Additional presentations will be provided to CDD residents and representatives of local NGOs who continue to help families affected by the pandemic.
We intend to disseminate the data to newspapers and academic forums in Rio de Janeiro.
The first report is now available. We will also be producing academic articles, co-authored by team members. and making presentations to universities and research centers in Brazil.