Through the Eyes of the Community:
Cidade de Deus and Its Needs, Capacities and Challenges
In 2017, we coordinated a quantitative survey for the Cidade de Deus neighborhood, located in the west zone of Rio de Janeiro. We aimed to capture data the reflected local residents lived experiences, which could be useful for mapping local development and supporting projects dedicated to bringing improvements to the community. Quantitative data, while limited, is important to documenting the challenges faced in the context of poverty, under-resourced public institutions, and insecurity caused by frequent shootings between the police and local drug traffickers. The survey project was co-led by sociologist Anjuli Fahlberg and local resident and activist Ricardo Fernandes.
The research took place in three stages:
We coordinated five discussion groups in various parts of Cidade de Deus. We also invited residents to share on the Facebook page "CDD Acontece." Residents were provided very open-ended questions about which topics and issues were most relevant to their daily lives. We talked to residents of all areas and from various races, ages, education and income levels, and gender. In total, 100 people of a range of ages, genders, races, and geographic location across the neighborhood participated.
Based on this data, we created a survey of 84 questions about social development, insecurity and resilience. Another 30 residents participated in a collective revisions of the survey questions and possible close-ended response choices.
Fifteen local residents representing all areas of Cidade de Deus were hired and trained as Research Assistants. In March 2017, our team took to the streets and we interviewed residents representing 989 households.
We collected the data using an approach we call a "beehive," walking through each area of the neighborhood in a large group, wearing T-shirt with our logo, and knocking on doors and local businesses in each area. We aimed to selected households as randomly as possible. There is great skepticism about officials knocking on doors in Rio’s poor neighborhoods. Through this approach, we managed to maintain the safety of the team while also legitimize our presence in the area, as residents stepped outside and saw the entire team walking the streets conducting interviews.
Our final sample was broadly representative of the demographic distribution of the neighborhood along gender, age, and the geographic lines.
Dissemination of Findings
We are currently in the process of sharing our data. We started by creating and distributing 3,000 colorful pamphlets with some of our findings to people talking or sitting in the streets. We also made presentations of our data at various NGOs in Cidade de Deus.
Several newspapers have cited our data, including O Globo, Veja Rio, and Carta Capital.
By the end of 2019, we will release a report with descriptive survey data. We are also producing scholarly articles, co-authored by team members, and giving presentations to universities and research centers in Brazil.
RACE, IDENTITY AND PUBLIC POLICY ACROSS URBAN PERIPHERIES
This projects brings residents of Cidade de Deus and other poor urban neighborhoods to talk about the construction of racial identity and politics within the context of exclusion from urban society and the power centers of the city.
This research offers young people from the periphery an opportunity to capture the essentials of everyday life, taking pictures and discussing what photos reveal of their possibilities, limits and desires.