Brazil is a country with one of the highest economic disparities in the world. 10% of the population earns 50% of the national income, while about 34% of the population lives below the poverty line. Half of the people from Rio survive with only 10% of the income. Poor housing, inadequate education, poverty and other social factors, severely compromise the heath of the population. Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil and home to approximately twelve and a half million people, but more than 40% live in the city’s favela settlements.
Rocinha falls low on the Human Development Index (HDI), despite the fact that it is located between two of Brazil’s wealthiest neighborhoods, São Conrado and Gávea. While the neighborhood of Gavea presents the same HDI as Canada, Rocinha has the same HDI as the Ghana Republic. The disparities in public health conditions and education for these adjacent communities are startling. Rocinha’s massive, congested community operates without a single local hospital for its residents. Students in Rocinha occupy some of the lowest academic percentiles in Brazil.
The educational status of Rocinha’s residents is very low. Residents average only 4.1 years of formal education, with less than 1% of Rocinha’s adult population having earned a degree above a high school diploma. Jobs that pay a livable wage in Brazil are all but strictly reserved for citizens with higher levels of formal education. Residents are also marginalized in several other ways. For example, it is difficult to find a job without being able to give a formal address, of which there are very few inside the favela.