The weather in Brazil is unpredictable, causing the water in the Amazon River to reach terribly low levels some years and swell to create floods during other years. Brazilians living along the Amazon know that the only way to prevent their homes from being destroyed by flood waters is to put the structures on stilts.
Location of Stilt Houses
You will find the majority of the stilt houses in impoverished areas known as Alagados and Novos Alagados, according to a report entitled "The Story of Integrated Slum Upgrading in Salvador (Bahia), Brazil." The tenants of these stilt houses do not own or rent the land. They have no contractual right to use the land, making them squatters.
According to "The Alagados Project" website, the majority of the inhabitants of these stilt houses are of African descent. More than six people live in each stilt house, noted the "Involuntary Resettlement Plan for Alagados VI" on WorldBank.org.
The stilt houses themselves tend to be unsanitary. The water in the mangrove swamps below is very dirty, which can be partly attributed to the lack of plumbing, according to the "Involuntary Resettlement Plan for Alagados VI." This puts residents at risk of contracting and transmitting bacterial illnesses.
The stilt houses are made of wood and are just one story in height, says the WorldBank.org website. The appeal of the stilt house is that the floor can be easily rebuilt higher up on the poles if the water rises to unprecedented levels, which is exactly what happened in May 2009. But the downside to being able to quickly rebuild certain sections of a home is that the overall structure is not sound and could collapse at any moment.
Fixing the Problem
As evidence by the "Involuntary Resettlement Plan for Alagados VI," there are organisations attempting to remove residents of the stilt houses and place them in safer, more sanitary houses. But logistical problems, coupled with a lack of opportunities for those requiring education and gainful employment, have delayed progress.