Daily Video

October 21, 2011

Technology Empowers Brazilian Slums

When most people think of Rio De Janeiro, visions of pristine sandy beaches and blue ocean waters come to mind.

What doesn’t come to mind are the violent, impoverished slums tucked away in the hills not too far away.

This is a completely different world.

The NewsHour reports that even after police crackdowns and community policing initiatives in these slums, or favelas, Rio had 4,800 homicides in 2010. That’s more than 10 times the number in New York City, which had the most murders among U.S. cities

Rodrigo Baggio of the Committee for Democracy in Information Technology blames much of it on drug trafficking and says it is rooted in poverty.

Baggio, a self-described computer nerd, has focused much of his work on using technology to tackle that inequality. His Center for the Democratization of Information Technology, or CDI, works with local community or faith-based groups to bring technological literacy to people in the favelas. Instructors come from the community, get training from CDI and teach the basics about software.

He says the big impact is that it empowers low-income communities because it teaches them to utilize technology to understand their reality in a better way and identify the challenges that they face.

One example of this a video created by young people who interviewed community members to better understand the realities of living in a favela. The youth realized there was a rat problem and they traced the problem garbage not properly disposed of or collected.

The video was sent to the mayor, and Baggio says all the publicity got a response from city hall that resulted in better trash services.


“I mean, this is a story, you know, 10 kids from a class that used technology, use the Internet to discover a problem, and find a solution for it and change their reality as a result.” -Rodrigo Baggio (through translator).

Warm Up Questions

1. Where is Brazil?

2. What is a “favela?”

3. Do we have anything similar in our country?

Discussion Questions

1. What did you learn from this video that you didn’t already know?

2. Do you think technology empowers a society? How so?

3. How did the young people in the video use technology to cause change?

4. Have you ever seen an example of this in your community?

Additional Resources

Video Transcript

View From Rio: How Brazil Pays the Price for ‘Economic Miracle’

In Brazil, Hope Grows for More Success in World Cup, Global Markets

Despite BP Spill, Brazil Pushes Forward With Oil Drilling Boom

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