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The Response

Jul 28, 2020

The Response, a podcast series from exploring how communities are building collective resilience in the wake of disasters with host Tom Llewellyn.

One of the biggest challenges to executing an effective response to the pandemic is data. Without enough accurate data, it’s impossible to know exactly how far-reaching and deadly the coronavirus is. There’s still so much uncertainty about basic things like the infection rate of asymptomatic carriers, or how easy it is for them to pass it on to others.

As this crisis continues to drag on, we’re starting to see some of the damaging results of incomplete data. As It’s become increasingly difficult for communities to advocate for the resources they need without it. 

One place, where the lack of support has become a lived reality, are the favelas in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. 

This week, we spoke with Theresa Willamson, the founder and director of Catalytic Communities in Rio.

Over the course of our conversation, we discussed many of the favela-led responses to the pandemic — things like food distribution, communication techniques, and the tracking dashboard.

We also touched on the importance of historical memory following disasters and other crises’ and how Rio’s legacy of being the world’s largest slave port is continuing to exacerbate the ongoing social disaster the favelas were facing before the pandemic.

The transcript of this episode is available here:

If you’re interested in contributing to Catalytic Communities' Covid-19 response efforts in Rio de Janeiro's favelas, check out their crowdfunding campaign at