L o a d i n g . . .


Solidarity networks reinforce assistance to indigenous and quilombola peoples of Rio Grande do Sul

Published originally in The Conversation Brasil on May 8, 2024, at 3:31 PM -03.


According to information from the Civil Defense of Rio Grande do Sul, by May 7, about 80% of the municipalities in Rio Grande do Sul had already suffered some impact related to the floods affecting the state. Already, more than 1.3 million people are directly and indirectly affected, confirming the categorization by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change as the “worst socio-environmental catastrophe in the history of Rio Grande do Sul”.

In this context, multiple actions by solidarity networks demonstrate agility, reach, and resilience to meet the basic needs of the population and question the low effectiveness of governmental actions in efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change and adapt to this increasingly hostile new scenario.

The experiences of solidarity networks in Brazil – characterized by collaborative practices of citizens, community-based associations, social movements, civil society organizations, and partners from the public and private sectors – have historically proven that this collective and coordinated action is possible and brings good results in the short, medium, and long term.


In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the collaborative map – an initiative coordinated by the Federal University of ABC – twelve months after the first confirmed case, had already located more than 2,200 solidarity actions across the country.

In the specific case of traditional territories, social movements such as the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) and the National Coordination of Articulation of Rural Quilombola Communities (CONAQ) took the lead in combating the pandemic, with monitoring, prevention, and containment actions, as well as food distribution and food security assurance.

Created in the context of the pandemic and reactivated during the environmental disaster of landslides in São Sebastião in 2023, the “Cuidar é Resistir” campaign of the Traditional Communities Forum of Angra-Paraty-Ubatuba is another example of the constant revitalization of territories through solidarity networks, ensuring the acquisition and distribution of food and expanding solidarity exchanges of fish and agroecological products.



In Rio Grande do Sul, the same happened with the “Mission Seeds of Solidarity”, an initiative created in the context of the floods in the Taquari Valley at the end of 2023, and reactivated in the current calamity scenario in the state. Focusing on peasant populations, actions range from rescuing people at risk of life, through search and unification of information, to collection and distribution of donations.

More than 14 organizations and social movements are part of the Mission, including movements of national relevance such as the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) and the Movement of Small Farmers (MPA).

On their social networks, the MPA states that the organizations that make up the “Mission Seeds of Solidarity: Emergency” remained congregated and active in the post-disaster of 2023 and are again mobilizing resources, volunteers, and actions. All to help the population that has been, is being, or will be affected.

Focusing on indigenous populations, APIB and regional indigenous grassroots organizations, such as the Guarani Yvyrupa Commission, shine a spotlight on territories historically invisibilized by society and coordinate solidarity actions. At least 80 indigenous communities of the Guarani Mbya, Kaingang, Xokleng, and Charrua peoples, located in 49 municipalities in Rio Grande do Sul, were directly impacted by the floods that hit the state, as illustrated in the map below:


Source: Joint survey by Cimi Regional South, Guarani Yvyrupa Commission (CGY), FLD/Comin/Capa, Cepi/RS
Preparation by Tiago Miotto/CIMI – taken from an Instagram post @yvyrupa.cgy on June 7, 2024


In the context of the diversity of territories in Rio Grande do Sul affected, CONAQ gives visibility to quilombola communities: “The state of RS currently has more than seven thousand quilombola families. Approximately 850 families are directly affected and about 1300 indirectly. The families in the communities are facing a disaster due to the floods today, and some of these families are stranded, without access to food, water, and energy,” wrote the managers of the National Coordination of Articulation of Rural Quilombola Communities on their social networks.



The examples of these collective actions that work with peasant populations, indigenous peoples, and quilombola communities illustrate the relevance of localized knowledge in guaranteeing basic needs, building mitigation and adaptation solutions to climate change, and implementing strategies for sustainable and inclusive development.

However, this relevance is not addressed when discussing the role of Science in these disasters. The focus is commonly placed on scientists from renowned universities and representatives of international organizations, who repeatedly address the role of large scientific infrastructures and data modeling, which can result in less contextualized solutions in the “one size fits all” paradigm, reproducing inequalities and invisibilizing social, environmental, cultural, and land diversity.

The complementarity between the knowledge produced in territories and the knowledge produced in science and technology institutions can enhance actions to prevent major disasters and provide immediate responses in emergency situations.

This complementarity begins with the visibility of active solidarity networks from North to South Brazil and the recognition of collective and coordinated actions as a fundamental pillar of a new horizon, aimed at improving human and non-human life today and in the future.

It is important to emphasize that these and other networks permeate the institutional spaces of public policy, adding representatives and officials from various bodies that strengthen actions. The space of activism and institutional space also complement each other to save lives.

To contribute to these and other actions, we suggest checking the official pages of the networks mentioned in this text:


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Ph.D. student in Science and Technology Policy at DPCT, State University of Campinas (Unicamp), and Coordinator of Programs and Public Policies at WTT.


Ph.D. student in the Graduate Program in Science and Technology Policy at the Institute of Geosciences, State University of Campinas (Unicamp)


Professor in the Graduate Program in Science and Technology Policy at the Institute of Geosciences, State University of Campinas (Unicamp)