Sao Paulo, Brazil - Civil Defence Helps Citizens Know Their Risk

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Diogo Moreira. UNISDR Chief Margareta Wahlstrom and Sao Paulo State Governor Geraldo Alckmin at a ceremony where Sao Paulo was recognized as a role model in UNISDR's Making Cities Resilient Campaign.


In the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Civil Defence System has taken an active role in raising awareness of disaster risk reduction and prevention, using campaigns and training opportunities to stimulate a culture of disaster resilience, with outreach to urban and rural communities.

One innovative approach, in partnership with the Department of Education, teaches students to reduce risks caused by rain events. The goal is to train 30,000 students in public schools throughout the State of Sao Paulo. A virtual game called “The Adventure” teaches students what they can do to prevent floods and other hazardous conditions brought about by rain, landslides and lightning storms. The course uses an interactive platform, is free, and can be accessed from any computer. The virtual environments replicate real situations, and working with an avatar (a figure that represents the user in computer-based games), the young participants’ mission is to make these environments safe and secure. Each of the nine game modules depicts a different scenario, such as open areas on rainy days, buildings near the slopes or water tanks and garbage dumped in inappropriate open spaces. To complete each level, students must perform all tasks and advise on how to avoid problems. Students who have successfully completed all levels receive a certificate.

Geraldo Alckmin, Governor of the State of Sao Paulo, said that “Sao Paulo is the only state in Brazil that has specific resources for the Civil Defence to sign agreements with its cities for preventive and recovery actions,” thereby enabling the cities to carry out structural works that minimise the damage caused by natural disasters. 

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UNISDR's 'Making Cities Resilient Campaign' 

UNISDR launched the Making Cities Resilient Campaign in 2010 that has developed a global network of more than 2,500 local governments committed to reducing risk and building more resilient cities. These local governments represent cities of different sizes, characteristics, risk profiles and locations. Their efforts are reinforced by a supportive group of partner organizations.

The Campaign’s focus is on disaster resilience – that is, the ability of a city to plan for, mitigate, respond, recover, adapt and grow after major in the light of its unique physical, economic, environmental and social circumstances. On a spectrum ranging from chronic stresses (environmental, social or economic imbalances) through to acute stresses, disasters are at the acute pole, but may be exacerbated by a background of chronic stress – where for example upstream deforestation increases the propensity for flooding, or where economic imbalances hinder the recovery process. 


“It is clear that the risk in cities is growing faster than our ability to reduce them. We need to innovate and ensure that solutions, tools and methods for resilience building are not only available, but also accessible. We need to accelerate resilience building at the local level, and this partnership will contribute to do this.”

-  Margareta Wahlström at the Third UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan in March, 2015.