A prize-winning plan to bring sustainable living to Rio's favelas has foundered and the residents face losing their homes

They were billed as “green games for a blue planet”, but as the Olympics draw near, how has Rio de Janeiro lived up to its pledge not just to deliver the global sports event in a sustainable way, but also to provide a social legacy that will improve conditions for the one in five Rio residents who live in favelas?

The centrepiece of Rio’s Olympic bid was the Morar Carioca programme, an ambitious plan to upgrade all 1,000 or so favelas, or informal settlements, by 2020, providing amenities such as water drainage and sanitation, and involving communities that had been excluded for decades in a participative process on improving their living conditions. Amid recession, however, the plan has stalled.

“Morar Carioca has not been dropped officially, but it has come to a halt,” says Orlando Santos Junior, a professor of urban planning at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. “When people ask how economic crisis has affected the Olympics, the answer is that it has had an impact on social programmes. In a crisis, it is always the social programmes that are hit: the hospitals and education, and in this case the urbanisation of the favelas.”

Early enthusiasm

When it was unveiled...

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Rio Olympics  sustainable living  sustainability  human rights violation  Urbanisation  olympics  eco-friendly  Babilonia  evictions 

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