Friday, April 20, 2007

Sustainable History of Curitiba, Brazil (3/3)

In the development of Curitiba, also the management of green areas and water resources were important aspects, next to infrastructure. In 1971 a start was made with the construction of squares and parcs, by buying bits of land, surrounding them with walls and planting trees, until it was realized that this solution was too expensive. Around that time, Brazilian federal government founded the construction of canals in cities for the drainage of water. Water management in Brazilian cities basically means constructing a concrete canal like an open sewer on the lowest point of the city. Because the sewage usually do not have enough capacity, or are absent totally, it can happen during the short but severe showers that rapid rivers form in the streets that flow to the lowest points of the cities and that result in floodings. In São Paulo in particular, where rain water can not absorbed in the soil because of all the asphalt and concrete, this is a common phenomena.

[Rua Quinze de Novembro after the reconstruction]

In Curitba a radical stop was put to this practise by constructing parcs that would also functionate as water buffers. This way, 28 water rich nature parks came into existence of about 5000 acres in total, with rich ecosystems and biodiversity. This meant about 51m2 of green space per inhabitant, which is more than the WHO standard of 12m2. Before the implementation of the masterplan there was only 0,5m2 of parc available per inhabitant in Curitiba. In the parcs, the graslands are maintained by the 30 sheep of the municipal sheperd. The parcs have also a meaning for society as a number of parcs are thematic and dedicated to the diverse ethnical and migrant groups in Curitiba. The city dwellers themselves participated in the construction of the parcs as well by planting about 300.000 plants and trees.

[The municipal sheep of Curitiba]

Also in other fields inhabitants and government collaborate actively in Curibiba. In the slums, where the dump trucks cannot enter, inhabitants get a sack of food in exchange for every bag of waste they bring in. The schools play an important role in the relation between the civilians and the municipality as the kids have teached the city how to recycle. And by supplying meals in the schools it is stimulated to attend classes. As a consequence, juvenile delinquency and begging was put to a halt. This way Curitiba has developed itself through time as a sustainable city, a dynamic concept that is still in process.

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