CAJU's Refresca São Paulo featured as Best Climate Practices from ICCG


Refresca São Paulo aims to enhance the urban resilience in the slums in order to cope with the negatives impacts caused by climate change, mainly those related to heat islands stresses and water insecurity. House’s internal temperature can be reduced after the installation of edible vertical gardens reducing risks of morbidity due to extreme heat mainly for elderly, bedridden patients and for people with special needs.

In this sense, our goal is to capacitate communities and provide them with assistance to install a rainwater harvesting system. The “do it yourself” (DIY-assembly workshop) is complemented with a “rain barrel art” workshop where families customize their kits to emphasize their local identity over this climate proofing intervention.

Follow up workshops on establishing edible vertical gardens that can feature fast growing fruit vines such as passion fruit (maracujá)- staple in the Brazilian diet. The vertical garden structures are envisioned to be made of recyclable and upcycled materials (bamboo, plastic bottles) in a permaculture style, as well as the dual use of the rainwater tanks as a pot for banana trees that can help in water filtering to contribute to the community’s food security and livelihood.

Objectives and beneficiaries

Global warming is likely to amplify heat waves and increase exponentially the risk of adverse health impacts (e.g. deaths due to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, commonly associated causes of extreme heat events). CAJU understands favelas as extremely vulnerable to suffer from the negative effects of heat stresses. In this sense, Refresca São Paulo's project from CAJU Initiative aims to adapt vulnerablel communities to cope with exessive heat stresses and foster income generation for people by enabling them to provide to their own community tools and simple mechanisms for coping and adapting to global warming. In this sense, we aim to capacity them to assemble, sell and install rainwater-harvesting systems within and around their neighborhoods. Due to its simplicity and low cost, it will become easily replicable and overcome local boundaries. Moreover, In an effort to cope with the negative impacts of climate change, Refresca São Paulo consists in a greenery strategy to create green areas, plant trees, urban agriculture and vertical gardens in Sao Paulo's favelas to ameliorate quality of life and to adapt to climate change.

Strong points of the practice

CAJU Initiative is engaged in research, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of risk and opportunities for urban climate mitigation and adaptation. It is unique and innovative by creating capacity in water harvesting in Brazilian slums. Also it is innovative beyond water harvesting for 3 main reasons: First, creating community water management; second, empowering the community to overcome heat stresses, food security and lack of water; third, it incorporates recreational activities in to responsible water management by allowing children to experience the pleasures of the contact with water. Through emerging tools and updated resources, Refresca São Paulo project designed by CAJU, looks for affordable, low-tech innovations in climatic solutions, creating knowledge and interventions devoted to cities and its government (public sector), companies (private sector), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and urban communities (civil society).

Expected results and benefits for climate change adaptation and mitigation

Slums in Brazil are vulnerable to climate change effects and challenges, which include temperature increase and changes in rainfall patterns. By These effects have adverse impacts on health and functioning of housing systems that are central to human existence. Particularly in São Paulo, the problem of water scarcity is already a reality that is likely to be further exacerbated by global warming. In this sense, Refresca São Paulo project aims to fight heat island effects and its negative impacts by introducing green areas in the grey informal urban tissue. By doing that, we also contribute to the community's food security and livelihood. In addition, we aim to green-insulate houses and help to prevent morbidity and deaths of elderly.

Replicability potential of the practice

Rainwater harvesting kits are replicable due to its simplicity of construction and installation and low cost. It has the potential to overcome local boundaries. In addition, the edible vertical gardening can provide ingredients for homemade desserts and fresh fruit juices that can also be sold to the local market. Future steps could encompass the creation of cooperatives that also would bring economic resilience to them. Our goal is to engage people in Brazilian's slums to capacitate them in water supply management and water harvesting techniques as well as to enable them to generate family income. In addition, municipal water's cuts has affected slums harder during the drought crises. Moreover, trained people will be able to design and build low-tech, affordable, replicable and marketable solutions for rainwater harvesting and vertical edible gardening. By doing that, we ease the burden of accessing water, enhance food security and diminish extreme heat stresses therefore enhancing overall community's resilience with regards to droughts and climate change. Besides, due to the urban tissue and social similarities there is a great potential of replicability in Taipas and other favelas. High-level planning authorities already have indicated to our team interest in implementing our climate adaption project in Taipas area as compensation of a large development footprint (Rodoanel Highway - north part) as well as developing mitigation metrics through our model. Besides Taipa’s vulnerability to negative effects of global warming, approximately 2,000 families have been displaced, (undocumented) for the beltway construction. Moreover, it’s important to mention that at this stage scaling up in the pilot means to achieve greater influence amongst the targeted communities and city-wide public awareness. Through their help we disseminate knowledge in adaptable, do-it-yourself techniques for proper rain harvesting and greening of the slums. In addition, we trust that our design can inform policy to enhance climate resilience at the city level. To illustrate the project’s scalability in other urban areas is worth to mention that a presentation of Refresca São Paulo project it’s currently being held at the São Paulo’s City Hall for policy-makers appreciation. [Editor's Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made to increase readability and understanding.]

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