Brazilian CSOs at Forefront of This Year’s Floods in Rio Grande do Sul

Image of Brazilian CSOs at Forefront of This Year’s Floods in Rio Grande do Sul

While the Brazilian government and the military continue to play a critical role in the ongoing response to this year’s floods in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have been at the forefront of providing immediate aid, emergency shelters, the distribution of relief and support to the region’s long-term recovery. Given their longstanding relationships with local residents, CSOs—including local organizations, community groups, the Brazilian Red Cross, Cáritas Brasileira, and individual volunteers—have operated quickly, without bureaucracy and with a high level of trust, logistical knowledge and cultural sensitivity.

In Porto Alegre and Pelotas, CSOs work alongside governmental agencies to coordinate resources and ensure outreach to those most affected. For example, volunteers from Portão assisted residents in São Leopoldo, São Sebastião do Caí, and Montenegro, using their own homes as shelters or making meals for those affected, and rescued and sheltered pets. They can also act as watchdogs, monitoring the use of funds for relief efforts. A group from Centro Universitário Ritter dos Reis even created an internet platform to centralize rescue efforts and field requests for help. In some cases, private aircraft based in São Paulo transported tons of donations.

CSOs also help communities by rebuilding homes that are flood resistant, restoring livelihoods and agricultural land, providing psychological support. Instituto Ethos, for example, in promoted sustainable practices and environmental restoration efforts, while other CSOs raise awareness of the causes of regional flooding in order to improve policy and mitigate future flood risks. Through collaboration with governmental and international agencies, CSOs lead the way in food management, disaster relief and in building more resilient communities.

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