ICFM6 - International Conference On Flood Management

Data: 17/09/2014 à 19/09/2014
Local: São Paulo - Brazil

A Participatory and Integrated Flood Risk Management Experience: Belo Horizonte, Brazil (PAP014817)




Mariana Madruga de Brito, Alexandra Passuello, Eloísa Maria Adami Giazzon, Christa Korzenowski, Solange Fonseca de Araújo, Alexandre Lucas Alves, Cristiane Pauletti, Luiz Carlos Pinto da Silva Filho


Flood resilient societies through community preparedness


Floods are one of the most destructive disasters that occur in the city of Belo Horizonte, located in the southeastern region of Brazil. Between the years of 1991 and 2010, these processes caused dozens of deaths in the municipality, affecting nearly 300,000 people. In order to mitigate those losses, the Belo Horizonte city government adopted a systemic risk management approach. In this sense, structural and non-structural measures were implemented, with a strong focus in community involvement, which helps to increase the resilience and improve the local understanding of flood risk. These measures are internationally recognized and, due to its efficiency and applicability, should serve as an example for other municipalities. Therefore, the objective of this study is to describe the community mobilization initiatives conducted by the Belo Horizonte municipal government, with a special emphasis on risk prevention and in flood emergency response. Furthermore, this study aims to reflect about the risk management system employed, with regards to the advances provided by these measures, as well as their challenges and difficulties. For this purpose, technical visits were performed at different departments and offices of the city. Those visits were coordinated by the Municipal Civil Defense Council (COMDEC-BH). One of the most relevant preventive action identified was the continuous training and mobilization of the population that lives in flood prone areas, through the Centers for Rain Warning and Alerts (Núcleos de Alerta de Chuva - NAC). These centers are composed by government officials and community members who volunteer their time. They allow the establishment of a direct channel of dialogue with the people affected by floods, which improves the inhabitant's perception of risk and the effectiveness of disasters response and recovery. Until the year 2013, 42 NACs were established, with approximately 350 trained volunteers who act as agents on the alert and emergency warning of other residents. The risk perception and knowledge of the NAC's volunteers aims, among other activities, to identify and improve escape routes, define temporary shelters and propose simple interventions to mitigate the risk. In addition, the residents develop participatory flood hazard maps, commonly called as spoken floodplain maps" (mapas de mancha falada), which reflect the local reality, witnessed by the community in past flood events. Since the implementation of these measures and due to the better flood preparedness of the population there was a significant decrease in the quantity of people affected by floods and in its losses. The major factor that contributes to this success is the application of social technologies that include and expand the participation of vulnerable communities both in knowledge of the problems and in finding out solutions. Another important factor is the constant interaction of the departments of the city government in the risk management, which should be encouraged and pursued by other municipalities. Thus, Belo Horizonte has achieved a reduction of vulnerability and is becoming a safer city for its inhabitants."

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