Imminent danger in camps: families will be the first to suffer the deadly effects of climate change

Category: Best data-driven reporting (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: Chile

Organisation: 24Horas.cl

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 31/10/2019

Credit: María Paz Fernández, Francesca Cassinelli, Natalia García, Guillermo Acosta.

Project description:

Each year the global warming is more tangible than the previous. Heat waves, floodings and landslides are becoming part of our daily income of news from around the world. As this gets more intense every year, people who live in irregular housing or in camps will be the first ones to suffer its deadly effects. Most of the risk factors in this kind of disasters are tighly tied with the vulnerability criteria Chile meets: dry and semi dry areas, low height coastal areas, tree areas, dry prone and desertification areas. 

Impact reached:

Global warming and its effects are part of the regular coverage of the media in Chile. So are the natural disasters that occasionally hit our territory. However, inequality and vulnerability of some sectors of our society are often left in the dark.
This report was able to mix both elements and project something that could be fatal in the future: how climate change will first impact those in situations of greater vulnerability and need, those who do not have drinking water or pipes and whose homes are not able to withstand waves of heat, floods or landslides. The focus of this report is on those people who do not have the capacity to prevent or adapt to the eventual future climate and how they already perceive these dangerous changes.

Techniques/technologies used:

We began this investigation by making a Transparency Request to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development the database of the national census of irregular housing and camps. Having cleaned and analyzed that data, we were able to create an interactive map – using GoogleMaps – to show geographically where our country’s camps are located and how many families live in each of them.

With the same database – which includes information on the natural risks to which each area is exposed – we decided to visit some areas on the ground and talk to the neighbors. For this we made contact with the organization Un Techo para Chile, an entity dedicated to the construction of permanent homes and the eradication of camps in our country.

The investigation crossed the camps and risks data (for example flooding or landslides) with the increase of natural disasters in the country, showing the increase in the occurrence of the latter and the change-increase-in temperature in the last years. The source for the meteorological information was the Chilean Meteorological Directorate.

To show our analysis we used a variety of elements: photos, interviews on camera, databases, visualizations. Some technical tools we used were Excel, CSV, Infogram and DataWrapper for visualizations.

What was the hardest part of this project?

One of the challenges we had was to clean and analyze the enormous amount of information we obtained regarding the irregular housing census made by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. In a team work – we are two journalists we managed to clean the database, organize it and be able to obtain relevant information from it, which allowed us to draw up a map that clearly shows where the camps are and how many families live in each one of them.

Another challenge was to take this information to different levels and not only talk about the phenomenon at the national level, but through testimonies of people who live in these places show how climate change is already evident and how it has diminished their work. A villager, for example, told us that in the area many citizens work collecting sand from a river whose channel is almost completely dry.

Finally, we set out to have an attractive audiovisual presentation that was in charge of a designer and an audiovisual director and that managed to give unity to a subject that at times could be segmented in its contents.

What can others learn from this project?

Others can learn that is not necessary (althought it can be easier and quicker) to have a big team to gather, clean and analise data. We are just two journalists that managed to work with a big amount of information and still make it work through creativeness, order and self-capacitation.

We also tried to cover different levels of the information and not focused exclusively in the larger picture (nor the individual one): to show the public policies that relate to this issue, how the camps were created and what needs have the people that live in them. 

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