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ILO’s emergency response to the Rio Grande do Sul Floods: Rio Grande worst ever floods on record in Brazil – Brazil


Brazil floods: Hundreds of Rio Grande do Sul towns submerged

Overview of the Disaster

In early May 2024, torrential rains and severe flooding ravaged southern Brazil, particularly the State of Rio Grande do Sul. This catastrophe has engulfed 478 out of the state’s 497 municipalities, affecting over 95% of the region—an area comparable in size to Belgium. Local authorities have declared it the most severe disaster the region has ever experienced. At the height of the floods in mid-May, nearly 700,000 people were displaced, with 80,000 finding refuge in shelters.

As of now, the disaster has impacted 2.3 million people, resulting in 173 fatalities and leaving 38 individuals missing. Approximately 423,000 people remain displaced, with over 18,000 in shelters and many others staying with friends, family, or neighbours. By June 6, 95 municipalities had declared a state of public calamity, while 348 were in an emergency situation. Authorities are continuing to assess the extensive damage to housing and livelihoods, including agriculture, livestock, and industrial sectors, with a more detailed report expected soon.

Key Damage and Economic Impact

The Technical Assistance and Rural Extension Company (Emater) estimates that 2.7 million hectares of soil, nearly the entire land area of Belgium, have lost fertility due to the floods, impacting producers in 405 municipalities. The cost of recovering this soil is estimated at R$16 billion (US$3 billion).

Research from the University of Vale do Rio dos Sinos suggests that Rio Grande do Sul will experience zero or negative economic growth until August, potentially losing 4.2% in growth, which was previously forecasted at 4-4.5%. The most affected municipalities include Eldorado do Sul (36.3% economic drop), Canoas (19.8%), and São Leopoldo (19.3%) compared to the same period last year.

The Damage and Loss Assessment (DaLA) Initiative

In response to the disaster, a consortium of experts from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank, and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) will conduct a Damage and Loss Assessment (DaLA). A team of professionals from these institutions, along with UN agencies and other consultants, will travel to Rio Grande do Sul to collaborate with the state and federal governments of Brazil.

The first draft of the DaLA report will be presented to Brazilian authorities providing a comprehensive assessment of the damages and losses, guiding the recovery and reconstruction processes. It will focus on sectoral damages and macroeconomic impacts, offering recommendations and strategies for resilient reconstruction.

ILO’s Emergency Response

The ILO Office in Brasilia has been invited to participate in the DaLA. The ILO will help estimate employment and salary losses and provide recommendations for employment recovery. By participating early in the post-disaster assessment, the ILO aims to raise awareness among international, regional, and national partners about its role in crisis situations and responses, contributing to and benefiting from the recovery efforts.

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