Human impact and associated environmental issues working group

Coordination Team:

  • Betina Leme – Psychologist (IP-USP) and Linguist (FFLCH-USP), master’s fellow in Brazilian Literature (FFLCH-USP); working in projects involving vulnerable populations; independent consultant.
  • Bianca Pavan Piccoli – Social Worker and Sociologist, Spec. in Inclusive Education..
  • Fábio H. Comin – Biologist, Spec. in Education, Master in Environmental Agroecosystems Ecology, PhD in Applied Ecology (ESALQ/CENA/USP)
  • Lenira Rueda – Sociologist, Spec. in Public Policies Management (Unicamp), experience with Social Participation and Mobilization in Public Administration in Minas Gerais state.
  • Maria Beatriz Nogueira Ribeiro – Biologist and Master in Ecology (IB-USP), Doctorate degree in Ecology (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia – INPA).

WG Introduction:

The creation of the Human impact and Associated Environmental Issues Working Group (WG) resulted from the need to evaluate the socioeconomic impacts associated with the disruption of the tailings dam of SAMARCO. The study focuses on the communities located along the Rio Doce and how their lives have been affected by the tragedy. The study looks into their economic and subsistence activities related to the environmental resources that have been modified by the disruption of the dam. Special concern with vulnerable populations exist because the chances that their needs and claims will be neglected  by SAMARCO are high.

This study will be based on information gathered through literature review and data collected in the field by researchers and volunteer citizens, always following scientific criteria.

The WG has currently more than 100 members and a volunteer coordination team consisting of six professionals in the areas of human and biological sciences, with academic and field experience, as well as in the preparation of Environmental Impact Studies (EIA, Estudos de Impacto Ambiental).


Overall objective:

To evaluate the socioeconomic impacts of the breaking of the tailings dam of Samarco on riverside populations who are economically vulnerable and directly depend on the environment for their subsistence, livelihood, and maintaining their way of life.

Specific objectives:

1. To conduct a survey of the economically vulnerable populations or communities who depend on the environment for their subsistence, livelihood, and maintaining their way of life, and who have been directly affected by the tragedy.
2. To identify the different groups of population affected, including: fishermen, seafood restaurants, family farmers (up to 4 fiscal modules), indigenous peoples, among others.
3. To conduct literature review and secondary data collection (IBGE, Pronaf, government data, among others) relating to socio-economic issues for these populations.
4. To investigate the socioeconomic status of populations in loco after the disaster through questionnaires, interviews, and photographic records.
5. To understand the loss and damage processes caused by the disaster in these communities, based on all of the primary and secondary information collected.
6. To develop a scientific-technical report for the Environmental Impacts Report of GIAIA.


We are witnessing one of the greatest Brazilian socio-environmental disasters of this century. Homeless people, water supply compromised, contaminated soil, animals slaughtered, and a huge loss of terrestrial and aquatic diversity have occurred. The GIAIA – Grupo Independente para Análise do Impacto Ambiental (Independent Group for the Analysis of the Environmental Impact) – Samarco/Rio Doce, formed by professionals from the most diverse areas of knowledge, is willing to examine this environmental disaster in an independent, voluntary manner, and unrelated to public and private entities of the third sector. By adding information on different social groups in a single document, we will be able to understand the complex realities of the different communities affected. Some questions that will guide the action of this WG are: what are the social groups affected, and what are the extents of the social and environmental impacts? What are the material and immaterial losses to these communities, such as indigenous groups and traditional communities that have their way of life intrinsically related to the environment where they live?

Work proposal:

The WG will work with thematic axes. Each axis will have a mediator, who will organize the objectives and actions, as well as produce the resulting report. The members of the Work Group will sign up to contribute to the theme of their interest and/or experience. The contributions of the members of the WG will be voluntary and may occur in different phases of the process: bibliographical research, drafting the field protocol, field, systematization of data, preparation of the report.

The main themes to be worked are:

  • Impacts on Economic Activities
  • Impacts on Subsistence Activities
  • Impacts on Health
  • Impacts on Culture
  • Impacts on Heritage
  • Impacts on Migration / Permanence in territory

The field expedition of this WG will be coordinated by Fabio Comin and Bianca Pavan Piccoli, and aims at visiting the communities of fishermen, farmers, indigenous peoples, among others, that were affected by the disaster to collect information on all the main themes.

All information, as well as the final product, are the sole responsibility of the coordinators listed above, being the responsibility of this coordinating group to review, approve, and edit all data collected. The products and information generated under the WG will be released exclusively on the official website of GIAIA.

Reports (Portuguese only):