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Rural Communities in Maranhão, Brazil Flooded; Please Help

April 2009

Two weeks of steady rain have led to heavy flooding in the Brazilian state of Maranhão, the poorest state in Brazil.  Officials estimate that over 30,000 people have been displaced and that at least 6,000 have had their homes destroyed by the flood.  Assessment is still ongoing since many of the affected communities are very remote and roads are presently inaccessible.  Grassroots International’s partner in the area, the Association in the Settlement Areas of the State of Maranhão (ASSEMA), has been severely impacted and urgently needs our help.

We have received word from Silvianete Matos Carvalho, Executive Secretary of ASSEMA, who tells us that  “things are very difficult here as we have large numbers of displaced families who are staying in local schools and other public buildings, the hospital cannot take care of all the people who need medical attention, and children have nowhere to go to school.  Ironically, despite  the problems caused by excess water we are having a problem accessing potable water.”

ASSEMA, an association of rural workers founded by women, has deep relationships in the communities and will be working tirelessly to further assess the situation and provide relief to the people.  ASSEMA is known for its efforts to attain more equitable distribution of resources in Maranhão as well as for valuing women’s work and leadership and respecting the environment.

The local people of Maranhão have already born the brunt of structural inequalities that have deprived them of basic rights and kept them hungry for generations; a disaster of this scale is a very real threat to their livelihoods.  Thank you in advance for helping in whatever way you can today.



*Photo by Carlos Ricarco Felizardo, Courtesy O Imparcial Online

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