Brazilian Church responds to floods, notes climate change impact

13 November 2015

The Dioceses of Pelotas, Southern Brazil and South Western Brazil are providing food, clothing and shelter in Porto Alegre, Pelotas and Santa Maria, the capital and third and fifth largest cities, respectively, of Brazil’s southernmost state, IEAB Secretary General the Revd Arthur P. Cavalcante informed the Alliance on 24 October.

A severe storm struck the area on 14 October on the heels of heavy rainfall earlier in the month. Agência Brasil reported that 32 mm of rain fell in a 24-hour period, causing the Guaíba River running through the centre of Porto Alegre to overflow.

About 177,000 people have been affected, with over 6,400 families displaced and 1,353 becoming homeless, according to an Agência Brasil report on 24 October. The islands of Porto Alegre are one of the hardest-hit areas.

 “As always, the poorest people are most affected,” noted the IEAB in its emergency appeal, which aims to assist some 485 vulnerable families living below the poverty line who have lost their homes.

The Dioceses plan to offer these affected families basic necessities and the means to rebuild their homes and return to their livelihoods.

The IEAB reported further that parish communities have already distributed food, water, medicine, clothing and roofing materials, as well as repaired damaged church buildings.

On hearing the news from Brazil, the Anglican Alliance contacted partners around the Communion to raise awareness of the situation and mobilise prayer and support. Episcopal Relief & Development and Us (formerly USPG) are giving emergency support to the appeal.

Impact of Climate Change

IEAB leaders lifted up the increasing frequency of extreme El Niño and La Niña weather events such as the recent severe rains and tornados as a direct impact of global warming.

“Climate change is affecting Brazil more and more,” the appeal noted, and such occurrences had profound socio-economic consequences.

“Not only [do El Niño episodes] destroy livelihoods such as subsistence agriculture, but [they] also destroy homes and impact health due to water-borne illnesses, lack of appropriate sanitation, and contaminated drinking water,” the IEAB added.

“These floods underline once again the need for concerted climate justice action,” said Paulo Ueti, Anglican Alliance Latin America and the Caribbean Facilitator.

Support the response through Anglican and Episcopal appeals:

Photo: Flooding in Pelotas, Brazil. Credit: IEAB.