Brazilian Favela Boasts top Education, safe Transportation

March 6, 2013


Complexo do Alemao community is serviced by 152 gondolas (for eight passengers each) and six stations.

Mariana Ceratti / World Bank

  • After struggling with violence for 30 years, Complexo do Alemao is now a model community
  • Residents now enjoy better schools, health facilities, and transport services
  • A cable car has slashed commuting times, attracting tourists to the area

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. 

Preventive care

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.

" Kids here have access to computer labs, Arts classes, and now they‘re learning to speak English "

Eliane Sampaio

Principal at Affonso Varzea School, Complexo do Alemao

Quick and safe

Up until July 2011, going up or down the hills in the Complexo do Alemao could take as long as two hours. And when public transport was not available, locals had only two options: take an unregistered taxi -- car, van or motorcycle -- or zigzag through the community alleyways on foot. 

Since the cable car was opened to the public, they have a safer and more convenient alternative. Now it only takes 16 minutes to cover the distance between the top to the bottom (3.5km). The community is serviced by 152 gondolas (for eight passengers each) and six stations.

 “The cable car is fast and comfortable,” says 58-year-old Car Washer Wilmar Raposo. “Plus, residents can ride for free twice a day, on the way to and back from any cable car station,” he adds.

More public transport

The World Bank and the government of Rio de Janeiro have partnered to encourage public transport use in the city. For example, introducing measures such as travel cards, which allow users to easily pay multiple fares. One of them, the RioCard, is valid on the Alemao cable car.

Both institutions are also working together on the Second Rio de Janeiro Mass Transit project, which will fund the purchase of at least 120 carriages for the city’s railway system up until 2017.