By George Powell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Young people from the community of Manguinhos in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone) launched the favela’s very first printed newspaper on Thursday last week. The inaugural edition of “Fala Manguinhos” was run 3,000 times and will be distributed to the residents of the area via the library, the residents association and several other points through out the neighborhood’s 535,000 square meters.
Fala Manguinhos is produced by young residents of the favela in partnership with the Oswald Cruz Foundation and the UNISUAM university (Centro Universitário Augusto Motta), and will include stories and news from all thirteen of the favela’s communities. The aim is that the Fala Manguinhos project will be run by the community, for the community.
The Manguinhos favela was pacified in October 2012 and Rio’s Police Pacification Unit (UPP) have welcomed the newspaper, saying it will be valuable tool for communication, providing the favela’s residents with a platform to express themselves and will also help the UPP better understand the communities needs and concerns.
A statement on the UPP website says that while the UPP officers deal primarily with safety, knowing how the residents view their work is an important part of improving the process. An online version of the paper will in fact be shared via the UPP’s online portal, a clear indication of the UPP support for the project and the next edition of the paper will contain a special news section on the UPP’s future plans in the favela.
Community news from Rio’s favelas is not unprecedented, and one of the leading organizations in the space is a NGO (non-profit) named Viva Favela. It is a program developed by Viva Rio, whose experience related to journalism has over a decade of history, aimed at social integration, digital inclusion and reflecting the life of the citizens of Rio’s favelas.
Now the more geographically-oriented Fala Manguinhos, which until recently only existed online via their Facebook page and blog, hopes the print edition will get into the hands of a wider range of people within the community.
Fala Manguinhos has a focus not only on news and in promoting cultural and sporting events throughout the community, but also on education. The paper’s founder, Raphael dos Santos – who was born in Manguinhos – is a recent graduate from one of the publishing partners, UNISAM. The paper and online version promote and advertise eduction and learning opportunities available to young people, from IT classes and administration to full on university courses.
An effort like this would have been unlikely without the UPP program, the first of which was installed in the Santa Marta (also known as Dona Marta) favela community on December 19, 2008. Now there are a total of 226 communities currently pacified by 34 UPPs across the city, a number the government is keen to expand by 2014.
The IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatistica) has released the findings from its 2010 census which state that 22.03 percent of the 6,323,037 residents of Rio de Janeiro live in favelas, or ‘substandard’ and irregular housing communities.
Perhaps the most striking insight when compared with 2000 Census figures from the IBGE was a growth of favela population of 27.65 percent in ten years. That is in stark contrast to the growth of population in the rest of the city, which has increased only 3.4 percent.
The Manguinhos favela has an estimated 35,000 residents, and government sources report it has benefited from a R$1.1 million injection from the federal government since 2008 to encourage growth and development.