Protect Brazil’s favela communities from Covid-19

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We warmly invite you to partner with Habitat for Humanity on urgent interventions to tackle the rapid spread of Covid-19


We warmly invite Norrsken Foundation to partner with Habitat for Humanity on a $1M (approx. 885,000 EUR) program to implement urgent interventions to tackle the rapid spread of Covid-19 in Brazil’s favela communities. The need in Brazil cannot be underestimated; Brazil has now become the second most impacted country in the world, with the fastest-growing transmission rates. Due to a number of factors, including the politicisation of the Covid-19 pandemic by the government, Brazil has recently been announced as the new epicentre of the outbreak.
Through the proposed activities below, we aim to reach 10.8 million people in 100 favela communities in Brazil, over a twelve-month period from June 2020-June 2021. We will equip these fragile and densely packed communities with communal and household water and sanitation (WASH) facilities as a matter of urgency, so that community members can safely and regularly wash their hands and learn hygiene best practices. We will also repair urgent household damage in these settlements to ensure that families have hygienic and safe places to isolate.
With generous financial support from Norrsken Foundation, in partnership and solidarity, we will be able to help bring the transmission rates under control across the densely packed favela communities, enhance community awareness, install much needed home improvements and build the resilience of Brazil’s most fragile communities.
The program activities will include:
• The installation of 200 communal hand washing facilities across 100 urban communities in cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Salvador and Recife reaching an estimated 10 million individuals
• Raising community awareness of Covid-19 prevention and hygiene guidelines (following World Health Organisation recommendations)
• Conducting urgent home repairs for the most vulnerable households (for 350 families or approximately 1,750 individuals) to make the settlements fit for purposeful isolation.
Since 2009, Habitat for Humanity has been working with favela communities; developing critical home repair projects in partnership with local community grassroots organisations and families, which has brought extensive experience and trust within these communities. Given this expertise and our strong network, these proposed interventions could be deployed immediately, to help significantly mitigate the spread of Covid-19, which is ravaging communities at the moment and overwhelming hospitals across the country.

2. Habitat for Humanity
Since 1992, Habitat for Humanity Brazil, a non-governmental, non-profit organisation, has been working in the most vulnerable communities in the country on all aspects related to substandard housing, water and sanitation (WASH) solutions, and to promote adequate housing as a fundamental human right.
We currently operate in eight Brazilian states with interventions which aim to improve the lives of slum dwellers in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and other cities – ranging from building new homes, to household repairs and improvements, access to safe, clean water and securing land tenure. The goal is also to provide families and communities with a healthy environment in order to ensure economic opportunity, community development and ultimately, to break the cycle of poverty.
Habitat Brazil is part of the Habitat for Humanity International network which is driven by the vision that everyone deserves a decent place to live. Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort and has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in shelter and WASH in more than 70 countries across five continents.
We work with low-income families in the world’s most vulnerable communities to help them improve their living conditions – by helping them to help themselves, and guiding them to independence. We believe a safe, decent home is a critical foundation in the alleviation of poverty, through children having a safe place to do homework, families living in a clean space without hazardous living conditions or health risks, and through microfinance, we help the most at-risk families become financially independent in the process. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the world the critical importance of the home – having a safe home is a first line defence against the virus, so Habitat aims to continue to deliver on its mission even more diligently in response to this new crisis.

3. Covid-19 crisis in Brazil
The Covid-19 pandemic reached Latin America later than other continents; the first case recorded in Brazil was on Feb 25, 2020 and by early March, the World Health Organization (WHO) had defined the Covid-19 outbreak as a pandemic. Currently, Brazil has the most cases and deaths in Latin America (868,000 infected with 43,389 deaths, as of June 15th – Source: Ministry of Health) and in truth, these are probably substantial underestimates. Even more worryingly, a recent study by Imperial College (London, UK), which analyzed the active transmission rate of Covid-19 in 48 countries, showed that Brazil is the country with the highest rate of transmission.
According to the João Pinheiro Foundation (2015), more than 13 million people live in slums in Brazil. The housing in the favelas is densely packed, with narrow walkways in between houses, with barely enough room for one person to pass. As is typical in informal settlements, the infrastructure itself is poorly built and hazardous, with mold on walls and ceilings, roof leaks, very poor ventilation and little natural light. In essence, this is the perfect breeding ground for the transmission of a virus which is so easily transferred from human to human. With a lack of access to water and without proper housing, people in these communities are ill-equipped to isolate themselves to prevent spreading or transmitting Covid-19, especially since many of the houses are made up of just one room, which can often house up to 10 people, including the elderly and young children.
Therefore, critically important health recommendations are very hard to follow in this context: avoiding public transport, staying at home, avoiding crowds. With unemployment rates on the rise since 2014, the number of families that support themselves through informal jobs in these territories has grown. Today, 47% of the 13 million people who live in favelas are self-employed and have seen their income become severely impacted by the economic downturn created by the pandemic. (Source: Data Favela Research – March 2020).
In Brazil, according to data from the National Information System on Basic Sanitation, there are over 30 million people without access to treated water and around 3.7 million houses – which represents about 20 million people – without a daily water supply. The vast majority are low-income families living in favelas or human settlements. In these locations, people normally have running tap water for one day and then three days without. In some contexts, communities can go up to 10 days without running water. In order to manage their daily water requirements, families must store water in buckets – in damp, dark conditions, this water can consequently become vulnerable to other diseases like dengue fever and the zika virus.
In order to mitigate these worrying circumstances, we would like to work with Norrsken Foundation to create resilience within the favela communities, to help make this pandemic easier to mitigate for those who are not only most at-risk of catching the virus, but also represent the demographic who will be disproportionately impacted by the consequent and ongoing economic fallout caused by the lockdown measures and the overwhelmed local health and government services.

4. Project Goals
I. Implement 200 community handwashing stations for access to soap and water for hand sanitation in 13 states (100 communities) around the country for over 10 million individuals
II. To execute critical home repairs for 1,750 residents in favelas, eliminating the main precarious conditions that aggravate the transmission of Covid-19 in urban areas of the Southeast and Northeast regions. The specific locations and beneficiary numbers split by region are going to be defined after an assessment has taken place, based on need and local conditions for project implementation in target cities of each region.
To encourage and stimulate local entrepreneurship, the project targets to act with local partners, hire local labor and purchase construction materials in commercial establishments located in the communities served.

5. Beneficiary Target Groups:
We will target vulnerable populations living in favelas and the most at-risk communities (approx. 100 communities reaching approximately 10 million individuals) in 13 states of all regions of the country, as illustrated in the images below.


6. Program Description

The first phase of this program (June 2020-December 2021) will focus on the urban centres to solve the urgent issue of slowing down the rate of transmission in the favela communities. We will place communal handwashing stations at the entrance to the favelas, and there will also be communication materials disseminated and posters at the hand-washing station which will display important WHO hygiene guidelines on hand washing and prevention techniques.

In the second phase (Dec 2020-June 2021), we will make urgent home repairs and improvements for the most vulnerable families in the community, so that families can keep themselves safe and healthy within their homes.
We propose the activities are implemented in two subsequent phases over a twelve-month period; importantly, each phase offers resilient interventions the impact of which will last well beyond the life-cycle of the program.

7. Project Activities
This project’s scope is to act as catalysts for local solutions for WASH in urban slums in Brazil, created by and for the local context, developed with local capacity and materials. Below we present the activities planned for project implementation for:
• Phase One: Water & Sanitation (WASH) solutions reaching nearly 10.8m individuals
Brazil is now entering a critical stage in the contamination curve, as the virus has now reached favelas and low-income communities around the country. In light of this, Habitat Brazil is working within big urban centres to solve the urgent issue of supplying the most vulnerable families with access to WASH solutions to prevent infection from Covid-19. Currently, no community-wide solutions for access to water exist in Brazil. Families without water on the tap have to store water in buckets and other often improper solutions.
With support from Norrsken Foundation, we can offer these communities the opportunity to create local solutions by installing communal handwashing stations – sinks in the entryway of communities, where people can wash their hands and follow the main recommendations from the WHO to avoid contamination.
The communal water solutions will be placed in strategic spots in the community so that families may wash their hands before using public transportation or leaving the house and before returning home.
We will also produce and distribute awareness raising content, again according to WHO guidelines and recommendations for hygiene best practice and Covid-19 prevention, as well as for the safest use of the water stations.
Core Activities of the Phase 1 – Communal handwashing stations include:
• Identify communities that have a greater level of vulnerability, in this case, the number of families without regular access to running water, with a high demand for moving – work necessities, lack of appropriate conditions for self-isolation
• Network with NGOs, local partners and community organizations and/or leaderships to plan, create and implement solutions in each territory
• Define the necessary amount and strategic locations in the communities so that the sinks are installed in positions where there is a high circulation of people, such as the main entryways to the community
• Guarantee that the water installations are free and legal, through contact with the local water distribution agency
• Install the communal handwashing stations through simple, low-cost and rapidly deployable solutions. Habitat Brazil can rapidly implement the solutions as communities, local leaders and executing partners have already been mapped; solutions will be developed and adapted to local context following the minimum criteria established by Habitat Brazil. This scheme allows fast implementation; Habitat Brazil has already installed 30 communal handwashing stations and one community water collection point since May 18th, as proof of concept phase of the project. The handwashing stations will also have posters or plaques with instructions of use and how to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, along with a key contact for maintenance and publicity of the organizations responsible for implementation as well as donor partners, such as Norrsken Foundation
• Formalize agreement with neighborhood associations and/or community leadership who will be responsible for filling the soap dispenser, for maintaining and monitoring equipment. All local partners will be trained in maintenance.
• Through the use of geo-processing, Habitat Brazil will register and monitor the use of the communal sinks through videos and photos
• Produce and distribute awareness raising content according to WHO’s recommendations for hygiene and prevention, by placing plaques on each equipment and digitally distributing this material through WhatsApp, sound bikes, sound cars and community radio stations.

It is important to note that the solutions will be created locally through knowledge, skills, materials and existing vendors in these territories, as a way to facilitate their incorporation into the communities as well as to stimulate local economic demand through the acquisition of products and services from local businesses, which are currently severely impacted by this crisis. The prerequisites for these solutions are: one or more sinks, faucet with a mechanism to safely turn on water supply (foot or automatic activation), soap dispenser, connection to the public water supply system, whenever possible. When this is not a possibility, water storage systems need to be installed.

• Phase Two: Urgent home repairs for the most vulnerable 1,750 individuals

Habitat Brazil intends to execute structural and permanent home repairs for 1,750 individuals (350 families) in vulnerable communities in urban areas, with a specific focus on WASH solutions, in order to eliminate the main lack of hygiene conditions that aggravates the transmission of Covid-19.
Home repairs will be fully subsidized and targeted at families with at least one member belonging to a vulnerable group, according to the following criteria: headed by women, with elderly, residents with chronic diseases and / or children, and with a monthly family income of up to USD 600.
The interventions will always depend on the family requirements, but some examples of home repairs to be performed may include some or all the following:
• Installation of water tanks, repair of hydraulic installations and installation of additional hydraulic supply points, as needed;
• Improvement in the air circulation and ventilation where necessary, including opening new windows or exchange of windows, creation of cross ventilation, exchange of doors, etc
• Installation or renovation of bathrooms;
• Roof repairs and installation of rainwater collection and storage.
All of the home builds and repairs will be completed in accordance with the safety regulations of the health authorities. Personal protection measures will be implemented to avoid contagion of Covid-19 in families, project teams and contractors, with the use of PPE, maintaining the recommended distance, constant cleaning, hygiene, limited travel, optimizing the use of tools, among others.

Core Activities: Phase 2 – Critical Home repairs include:
▪ Identify communities that have a great level of vulnerability, in this case, a large number of families living in precarious houses, with mold, leaks, unhygienic bathrooms, poor ventilation indoor air quality and low natural lighting
▪ Network with NGOs, local partners and community organizations to implement the critical home repairs project in each territory. Habitat Brazil develops home repairs projects only in consolidated urban settlements, where families have secure tenure although often lack the legal property documentation. As the home repairs are presumed to be permanent, local governments indicate to Habitat Brazil the areas where the home repairs projects can be developed by omitting families who are at risk of eviction
▪ Promote the project in the communities through local communications channels, such as posters, WhatsApp, sound bikes, sound cars and community radio stations
▪ Register family interest and develop assessments on the vulnerability of the enrolled families. The assessments consider both social and technical components. The social assessment complements the family profile with information related to health and family environment. The technical assessment analyses the home precariousness and its impact on the family. A matrix combining social vulnerability and technical issues is then developed to support the family selection process.
▪ Submit enrolled families’ assessments to a selection committee composed of members of the local partner organization and Habitat Brazil. The selection process of the served families meets clear objectives and pre-established criteria. One of the criteria will be the presence of at least one member of risk groups for Covid-19 contagion (elderly, chronic diseases, etc.) in the family.
▪ Map the local supply of labor and construction materials stores and hire and purchase from local providers
▪ Develop the projects and present them to the served families for adjustments and approval. The families sign a contract accepting the agreed work. Each project will aim to mitigate the main aspects of the house which would contribute to the spread of the virus
▪ Execute the critical home repairs
▪ Register the home repairs through videos and photos.
All builds and activities will be carried out in accordance with the safety regulations of the health authorities. Protection measures will be implemented to avoid contagion of Covid-19 in families, project teams and contractors, such as the use of PPE, maintaining the recommended distance, constant cleaning, hygiene, limited travel, optimizing the use of tools, among others.

8. Expected Outcomes
• 200 favela communal handwashing stations installed
• 350 critical home repairs executed for 1,750 individuals
• 100 community leaders trained and committed to the maintenance of local solutions
• Content with WHO´s recommendations produced and distributed
• 100 vulnerable communities impacted around the country
• More than 150 local labors hired and all the construction materials bought in commercial establishments located in the communities served
• Up to 10,800,000 people with access to clean water and soap to wash hands in one year (150 people per day, per handwashing station), which will also include urgent home repairs for 1,750 people to enable them to have healthier, more hygienic homes
• Total of 10,800,000 people able to protect themselves from Covid-19 during the period of execution of this project (1 year).
9. Project Timeline
Due to the COVID-19 curve of contamination in Brazil, Habitat Brazil has to be careful about the timing to start working with the target families. Many live in very small spaces and continue living there whilst the home repairs take place. Our current estimates are that it will be possible and safest to work inside homes with the presence of the families after the 3rd quarter of 2020.

10. Budget
A detailed budget is available on request

11. Partner Visibility

Promoting the partnership creates a stronger link to customers and employees and improves internal and external communications, so we propose the following partner visibility activities, according to your preference:
▪ Promote the partnership through logo placement on project equipment and in awareness raising content
▪ Publishing the partnership with Norrsken Foundation through Habitat EMEA regional newsletter, Habitat Brazil’s monthly newsletter, Annual Activity Report etc.
▪ Recognize Norrsken Foundation as Habitat partner on Habitat EMEA regional and Habitat Brazil national website
▪ Announce the partnership through Habitat Brazil and regional (EMEA) social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)
▪ Feature Norskken Foundation’s logo on all the communication materials
▪ Share photos and family stories of helped families and more upon further discussions and scope of the partnership

We thank you for your kind consideration.

Target country


Project type

  • Alleviation
  • Community
  • Impact Support
  • Prevention
  • Wellbeing

Support needed

  • Anything
  • Operations
  • Raising capital

What we need help with

Habitat for Humanity urgently requires the funds to enable us to deliver our program interventions in Brazil's favelas; any financial support would be deeply appreciated as it would enable Habitat Brazil to immediately get underway with the initial phase of the the program. The situation in Brazil deteriorates daily; we must make immediate interventions to significantly slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus. We would sincerely appreciate your financial support at this most critical time for Brazil. Thank you for your consideration.

Best way to get in touch or +44 7479 423 988

Project status

  • Just started