In 2010, the state of Rio the Janeiro was hit by extreme floods and landslides that also badly affected the municipality of Angra dos Reis. The events caused at least 85 deaths, forced more than 4,000 people to evacuate their homes and produced uncounted economic losses. Given that Brazil’s only functioning nuclear power plant is located within the municipality of Angra dos Reis, an economic hub with various shipyards and multiple holiday condominiums, the 2010-events raised questions around nuclear safety and economic development, challenging authorities to take action to strengthen the region’s resilience towards extreme natural events.
In December 2016, a team of experts coordinated by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC) with the support of Brazil’s Office for Civil Protection, came together to launch a disaster risk management study in Angra dos Reis and to assess potential critical points. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit supports the activities in Angra dos Reis through the Global Initiative on Disaster Risk Management and its Chile-based regional coordination office for LAC. The project is part of the Initiative’s and UNECLAC´s joint product development in urban resilience, which focuses on strengthening critical infrastructures. Within this framework, action plans for three exemplary cities in the region are being developed. In addition to Angra, activities are also being implemented in Barranquilla, Colombia, and in Santiago, Chile.
In an interview with TV- Globo, Olaf Handloegten, Head of GIDRM’s Management Unit, stressed the relevance of undertaking disaster risk management measures in a city like Angra dos Reis, due to its exposure to multiple hazards. He also emphasized, that the city´s significant engagement in reducing risks due to landslides after the 2010 events, had played a crucial role in selecting Angra dos Reis as one of three participating cities in the study.
The project’s objective is to support Angra dos Reis on its path toward achieving the status of a (more) resilient city by reducing risks and enhancing the preparedness toward large scale events not only within government, but also through and with civil society, academia and private sector stakeholders. The project consultant Junia Santa Rosa observed towards TV-Globo, that a city can only become resilient if its inhabitants actively participate in municipal affairs, which is why she welcomed the public sector’s renewed commitment to involve population in activities aimed at disaster risk prevention.