Poor Urban Planning and Rain Leads to Landslides in Brazil

Over the past few weeks the beautiful country of Brazil has been devastated by terrible landslides.  The landslides are not uncommon in Brazil but these specific landslides have killed hundreds of people and displaced many more. According to the Guardian.co.uk, “Nearly all of those killed were buried alive when avalanches of mud and debris smashed down onto their homes in the early hours [of the day]. At least 13,000 people have been left homeless by the disaster.”

Landslides happen every so often in many cities in Brazil such as Rio , São Paulo, and in Minas Gerais. This month’s most devastating landslides happened in three towns in the mountains north of Rio de Janeiro. This area was hit by constant rain storms which eventually caused the sides of mountains and hillsides to collapse and slide away. The shanty towns (Favelas) were most affected because of the poorly constructed houses and infrastructure. Here, houses are built densely upon one another on sides of mountains where forests have been cleared out. This cleared-out forest is bad for the soil because roots give the soil an anchor. Without the roots the ground can easily erode, especially after the torrential rain, caused by La Nina. Humans can not stop rain, El Nino or La Nina, but we can plan these urban areas better, which can help prevent these disasters in the future.

-Paul S.

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