After Three Years, Mariana Mudslide Victims Will Get Their New Homes

Through a deal with the Minas Gerais district attorney's office, Samarco is letting residents of district destroyed by the mud design their new dream houses

Gabriela Longman Lalo de Almeida
Mariana (MG)

They lost their houses three years ago, and the question that remained is: how to recover the irrecoverable? Three years after the most significant environmental disaster in Brazil, residents of Bento Rodrigues are helping to design their new district and houses. The project is part of the compensation process for the Samarco mudslide in the municipality of Mariana, Minas Gerais, caused by mining company Samarco. Bento Rodrigues was the district worst affected by the disaster.

Established through complex negotiations between the State District Attorney's Office and Renova Foundation (formed in August 2016 by Samarco), every point in the process is discussed at exhaustion. It was thus with the location, size, and features of the future resettlement lots.

Residents of Mariana district destroyed by the mudslide are helping to define how their new community will look like - Lalo de Almeida

Now, it's time to decide on the contractor who will build the first houses. The plants were designed from memories and wishes of each resident - from the layout of the rooms to the choice of furnishings.

"Nothing that Samarco and Renova Foundation are doing is from their free will. It's the fruit of pressure and a series of deals and court decisions that mandated the residents to be consulted," says district attorney Guilherme de Sá Meneghin, who has been working on the case since the accident in November 2015. Samarco is a subsidiary of Vale and BHP Billiton.

"We could not accept resettlements like the federal housing program, because that was not their reality," he adds. He plans to make this model of participatory resettlement be available for victims of other disasters.

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

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