“We have 1,000 favelas in Rio,” says Luna Rozenbaum. “And we intend to put all the favelas on the map.”
Rio’s sprawling shanty towns, or favelas, are home to some 15 million people.
Too unsafe, too unimportant for official cartography, was historically the government’s view. On official maps, they often don’t appear.
With half a million foreign travellers headed to Rio for the Olympics, it was time for favela residents to make their own, and put them on Google Maps.
The bustling informal settlements hold bars, restaurants, markets, kiosks, motorcycle repairmen, samba schools, hostels and a swathe of other small businesses.
Postmen don’t come here, but 85% of the residents have smartphones.
And teams of locals in each favela have been using them to map them themselves.
“We did eight favelas nearest to the Olympic Games, we started to work on them in May, and then we finished in the end of July,” says Miss Rozenbaum.
Where the streets have no name
A Rio de Janeiro native - a Cariocas - she works in a charity group called the AfroReggae Cultural Centre. She has worked there since 2011, but the centre has been around since 1993.