Covid-19 in Favelas Unified Dashboard (August 23, 2020)

Introducing The Covid-19 In Favelas Unified Dashboard

August 26, 2020—To overcome the data deficit regarding Covid-19 in favelas, a handful of data-savvy favela-based groups, fully aware of the role of data in saving lives, set up their own dashboards with community monitoring of the illness. Inspired by these initiatives, a growing coalition of favela-based and favela-supporting civil society organizations have come together around the Covid-19 in Favelas Unified Dashboard.

Favela advocacy organization Catalytic Communities (CatComm), which has supported favela-based organizers for twenty years, partnered with Esri to realize the dashboard, available at www.favela.info. The Unified Dashboard works to identify and develop data sources on probable and confirmed cases through a network of community sources, dozens of favela-based rapporteurs across the city, government-published dashboards, and news clippings. It also allows for residents to report their symptoms directly using a symptom-checking algorithm.

Its primary goal is to support favela-based prevention efforts in informing their own residents and pressuring for needed public policies, while also providing a more accurate view of the impact of the pandemic on favelas. As trusted community-based rapporteurs and other sources produce greater accuracy than publicly-available data and do so by each favela, a clearer view of the true reach of the pandemic across Rio’s favelas is emerging.

Since launching in early July, the Covid-19 in Favelas Unified Dashboard has quickly become a primary reference among those looking for data on the impact of the pandemic on favelas, from community groups, to media outlets, public agencies, and researchers. Each week new sources of data are identified among community partners, and the database is further strengthened.

Partners to date include a range of health, data and community organizations and collectives, ranging from Brazil's national health foundation, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz), to international housing NGO TECHO, to favela-based collectives and NGOs like A.M.I.G.A.S., Centro Social Fusão, Coletivo Conexões Periféricas-RP, Covid por CEP, Data_Labe, Fala Roça, Favela Vertical, Fórum Grita Baixada, Frente de Mobilização da Maré, LabJaca, Mulheres de Frente, Observatório de Favelas, PerifaConnection, Redes da Maré, SOS Providência, Voz das Comunidades, and WikiFavelas.

We have set up a special fund to help Catalytic Communities fight the coronavirus in Rio's favelas through the Covid-19 in Favelas Unified Dashboard and other critical programs listed below.

Though much of our promised funding for the year was called off at the beginning of the pandemic due to economic impacts on our donor institutions, we have been able to continue responding to favelas' urgent needs since March thanks to those who have contributed in this campaign so far.

But to keep it up we must reach our full $50,000 goal.

See how far we've gotten and how you can set up a one-time or recurring donation, of any amount, here:

Rio de Janeiro's favelas have become one of the world's epicenter of Covid-19 deaths.

Why Is This Dashboard Necessary?

Whereas the WHO uses a three-tier system for counting and reporting Covid-19 cases (suspected, probable, and confirmed), with only the “confirmed” tier relying on laboratory test results to confirm the presence of the virus, Brazil uses a two-tier system, counting only suspected and confirmed cases, but including only confirmed cases on public dashboards. Since at most 1 in 10 cases is actually tested for in Brazil, and this rate is lower in favelas (which have 30 times more cases than officially registered), the policy of only showing confirmed cases on public dashboards puts the public at grave risk due to lack of information to make sound decisions. Brazilian authorities are also discouraging the counting of deaths among those with comorbidities as Covid-19 even if the immediate cause of death was Covid-19. This situation is particularly grave in favelas. One recent study in just four favelas projected that 90,200 people had been infected who never appeared on public dashboards.

On top of these significant issues, nowhere is the city of Rio de Janeiro collecting information by favela, even though 24% of the city’s population lives in some 1000 favela neighborhoods, at a much greater risk of contagion than other areas of the city due to a long list of factors: historic public sector neglect, insufficient water supplies, limited resources, dense living conditions, poor access to information, the inability to forego work, insufficient access to testing and medical care, high comorbidity, among others.

Even with extreme underreporting, Brazil is today the second country with the most confirmed Covid-19 cases and also confirmed deaths. Rio de Janeiro is second only to São Paulo as Brazil’s hotspot of Covid-19 deaths, but Rio’s death rate is significantly higher than São Paulo’s.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s leadership has downplayed the pandemic and responded inadequately. Insufficient and tardy economic support has made it impossible for most favela residents to self-isolate. Many—beginning with national and local authorities—are relying on a misguided concept of herd immunity, even though scientists have made it clear this is not an option for Covid-19 at this stage of the pandemic. Authorities have, despite growing infection rates, reopened the economy, including bars and restaurants.

The result is a crisis, with growing spread yet no real sense of how grave the situation is or where the hotspots are.

About Catalytic Communities’ Covid-19 Response

Since March, Catalytic Communities has focused exclusively on supporting favela organizers at the frontlines of prevention and mitigation. We have ramped up our community reporting efforts on RioOnWatch to offer daily coverage as these resistance efforts unfold. We have held over 120 live community Zoom meetings hosting some 2000 people including regular special support meetings with over 300 community organizers from over 75 favelas and 560 technical allies and volunteers who are working together to respond to the pandemic and develop strategies for social change in these trying times. We have provided food stuffs to those on the frontlines and distributed a hygienization alternative to gel alcohol in partnership with Engineers Without Borders. We are raising funds for waste pickers who conduct 90% of Brazil's recycling yet are among the hardest hit by this pandemic. We are part of a group advocating to the federal government for civil society-monitoring of water utilities. We are connecting favela organizers with global media outlets who are covering their stories, and speaking virtually on international panels, from the UN to Land Portal and the Global Summit, sharing real-time updates from Rio. And we are organizing live teach-ins online where up to 100 organizers weekly learn from those who've been successful in their resistance efforts. Finally, we have launched and are expanding data weekly available via the Covid-19 In Favelas Unified Dashboard described above.

Again, we have set up a special fund to help Catalytic Communities fight the coronavirus in Rio's favelas through all of this critical work. Though much of our promised funding for the year was called off at the beginning of the pandemic due to economic impacts on our donor institutions, we have been able to continue responding to favelas' urgent needs in all of these incredible actions thanks to those who have contributed in this campaign so far. But to maintain these efforts for the remainder of the year we need to reach our full $50,000 goal.

Please take a moment today to set up a one-time or recurring donation, of any amount, and help us address this current crisis while continuing to work for systemic change in support of favelas in these uncertain times. US-based donations are 100% tax-deductible.

We are counting on supporters like you.

Thank you,

—The CatComm Team

P.S. If you'd like any further information on our activities please do not hesitate to reach out to us at catcomm@catcomm.org. And if you would like to collaborate in other ways, like hosting a virtual Q&A with our founder or becoming a content partner for RioOnWatch, please let us know. We are ready to share and learn with you or connect you directly to our community partners.

Second Press Conference

Covid-19 in Favelas Unified Dashboard Press Coverage

(Reverse chronological order, English coverage in bold)

Rádio Nacional — August 20, 2020: Rio de Janeiro registra 202 mil casos de Covid-19 e 15 mil mortos [RADIO] by Raquel Júnia [Brazil-PT]

Agência Brasil — August 13, 2020: Rio: 1,4 mil mortes por covid-19 foram em favelas, mostra painel by Alana Gandra, also Veja Rio [Brazil-PT]

Fundação Oswaldo Cruz — August 12, 2020: Painel Unificador de Favelas realiza segunda coletiva nesta quinta-feira, 13/08 [Brazil-PT]

O Dia — August 3, 2020: Sinal de Alerta na Maré by Renan Schuindt [Brasil-PT]

Shareable The Response Podcast — July 28, 2020: Crowdsourcing data to fight the pandemic in Rio’s favelas [PODCAST] by Tom Llewellyn [USA-EN]

The Sociable — July 27, 2020: Neglected by govt, Brazilian favela organizations take COVID-19 data collection into their own hands by Sophie Foggin [Colombia-EN]

SIC Notícias — July 24, 2020: Bolsonaro insiste no uso da hidroxicloroquina para tratar a Covid-19 [TV] by Ivana Flora [Portugal-PT]

O Globo — July 23, 2020: Favelas contestam dados oficiais de mortes pelo coronavírus em comunidades do Rio e criam painel próprio by Selma Schmidt, Gilberto Porcidonio and Gustavo Goulart [Brazil-PT]

World Habitat — July 15, 2020: COVID-19: community responses in informal settlements by Elena Garcia [UK-EN]

Vax Before Travel — July 14, 2020: Rio Resolves Outbreak Under-Reporting by Robert Carlson [USA-EN]

Rádio Nacional — July 10, 2020: Plataforma online vai reunir dados sobre a Covid-19 em 120 favelas do Rio de Janeiro [RADIO] by Fabiana Sampaio [Brazil-PT]

Fundação Oswaldo Cruz — July 10, 2020: Movimentos lançam Painel Unificador Covid-19 nas Favelas [Brazil-PT]

SBT — July 10, 2020: Covid-19: casos não registrados podem ser maiores do que o total de infectados na cidade [TV] [Brazil-PT]

Agência Brasil — July 9, 2020: ONG lança painel para coletar dados da Covid-19 em favelas by Alana Gandra, also Época Negócios [Brazil-PT]

Agência de Notícias das Favelas — July 9, 2020: Painel unifica dados sobre Covid-19 em favelas do Rio by Ludmila Silva [Brazil-PT]

O Dia — July 9, 2020: Covid-19: painel lançado por comunidades do Rio mostra alto número de óbitos em favelas by Luisa Bertola [Brazil-PT]

Reuters — July 9, 2020: Rio’s favelas turn to technology to fight underreporting of coronavirus cases by Fabio Teixeira [USA-EN], also in Sight, IOL

G1 — July 9, 2020: Dados divulgados por entidades de favelas do Rio mostram números da Covid-19 maiores que os oficiais by Priscila Chagas [Brazil-PT]

TV Globo / Bom Dia Rio — July 9, 2020: Comunidades do Rio lançam painel sobre número de casos do coronavírus nas favelas [TV] by Priscila Chagas [Brazil-PT)

Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization – July 1, 2020: Taking Action and Pivoting to Respond to the Growing Epicenter of COVID-19 in Rio de Janeiro’s Favelas by Theresa Williamson and Chauncie Bigler [USA-EN]

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Catalytic Communities