In Brazil, Rio’s community journalists face daily challenges informing favela residents about COVID-19

The following is an excerpt of a 5 May 2020 CPJ blog post by Renata Neder/CPJ Brazil correspondent.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Gizele Martins and Raull Santiago – community journalists from Rio de Janeiro’s favelas – worked to bring accurate news and information to the local population and to give visibility to their struggles. Their organizations are among dozens of media groups founded by residents of Rio’s favelas and other marginalized areas aiming to challenge stereotypes, reduce stigma, empower residents, and build a diverse narrative about their communities.Brazil’s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in late February, and since then, more than 101,000 cases have been reported and at least 7,000 people have died, according to May 3 data from the Brazilian Health Ministry. Rio de Janeiro’s densely populated favelas account for around 22% of the city’s 6.7 million people, according to the last national census. When the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Rio, favela residents began to worry about the impact of the pandemic in these areas, where many households do not have regular access to water.

As of May 3, there were just 55 confirmed coronavirus deaths in the favelas, according to a special online monitoring panel set up by community media group Voz das Comunidades, which systematizes information from Rio’s city and state governments and is updated daily. The numbers, however, are believed to be much higher due to a lack of testing in the favelas and the fact that some of the cases are counted together with the numbers of the larger neighborhoods in which they are located.

Read the full blog post on CPJ’s site.

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Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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