Located just above sea level in a mountainous terrain, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is particularly vulnerable to flooding and landslides. This is likely to increase over time as climate change leads to more intense weather events.
Favelas, settlements mostly populated by disadvantaged populations and largely situated along mountainsides, experience greater vulnerability to natural disasters and other urban environmental risks. The Municipality of Rio de Janeiro, with the support of the Municipal Civil Defense in particular, is currently strengthening its disaster risk reduction programming by mapping fragile land and infrastructure, identifying the presence or lack of drainage systems, and developing an effective early warning system.
UNICEF is implementing a pioneering initiative carried out by adolescents using digital mapping technology to identify environmental, mobility, housing, and structural problems in the communities where they live.
The initiative strengthens participatory governance by creating a new way for youth and community members to communicate with officials and increase awareness of social and environmental risks. Government representatives have been involved from the earliest stages of the methodology, including members of the civil defense, health workers, and community leaders.