For decades, Complexo do Alemao residents, a poor community 10 miles north of downtown Rio de Janeiro, lived in fear.
Some days, clashes between drug gangs and the police were so intense that people wouldn‘t dare leave the house. “Only in a medical emergency,” recalls Tatiana Modesto, Manager of the local Family Health Clinic.
However, since a peace-keeping police force (UPP in Portuguese) reclaimed the area in November 2010, the 110,000 residents are able to move about the neighborhood.
They also enjoy better health and education services, thanks to UPP Social, a World Bank-supported initiative. UN-Habitat and Instituto Pereira Passos are in charge of the execution of the UPP Social Program, supporting the Municipality in the global management and monitoring.
The program provided funds for the construction and maintenance of a new Family Health Clinic and the Unidade de Pronto Atendimento, a local Emergency Unit, among others.
At the clinic, the community has access to preventive care. “If there’s an emergency the patient is taken to the Emergency Room, located in the same building,” says Modesto. “Both facilities aim to lower the demand for public hospital services,” she adds.
UPP Social is also responsible for the Escolas do Amanha project in the Alemao neighborhood. At five supported schools, children can attend classes on a part- or full-time basis.
“They have access to computer labs, Arts classes, and now they‘re learning to speak English,” says Eliane Sampaio, Principal at Affonso Varzea School. Signs with sentences in English held by cartoon characters, are found all around the school.