Living with Drought: Lessons from Brazil’s Semiarid Region

without the water supply solution represented by tanks and other devices to collect the scant rainwater, the tragedies of the past would certainly be repeated in the semiarid region, which occupies most of the Brazilian Northeast and northern strips of the Southeast

By Mario Osava
RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 23 2020 (IPS)

No one died of hunger during the worst drought in Brazil’s
semiarid ecoregion, between 2011 and 2018, in sharp contrast to the
past when scarce rainfall caused deaths, looting, a mass exodus to
the South and bloody conflicts.

Social programmes such as Bolsa Familia (family grant), an
expansion of pensions for retired peasant farmers and assistance to
low-income disabled and elderly people helped the poor overcome
their vulnerability in the semiarid region, where more than 27
million people live in 1,127,953 square kilometres, slightly larger
than the size of Bolivia.

But without the water supply solution represented by tanks and
other devices to collect the scant rainwater, the tragedies of the
past would certainly be repeated in the semiarid region, which
occupies most of the Brazilian Northeast and northern strips of the
Southeast.

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More than 1.1 million tanks that harvest rainwater from rooftops
ensured human consumption. The 16,000 litres held by each tank were
used up during the unusually long dry periods, but the system made
the distribution of water by tanker trunks, generally carried out
by the military, more efficient.

In addition, the “technologies†or different ways of storing
water were disseminated to more than 200,000 families in order to
ensure food production on family farms, which total 1.7 million in
the semiarid region.

The distributed water infrastructure guarantees better quality
food for the farmers themselves, supplies towns and cities in the
country’s interior and boosts the local economy.

According to the Articulação Semiárido Brasileiro (ASA), a
network of more than 3,000 organisations, including trade unions
and farmers’ associations, cooperatives, non-governmental
organisations and social movements, some 800,000 small farms are
still in need of tanks that collect water for agricultural
production in order to universalise this technology.

ASA, created in 1999, promoted the One Million Rural Water Tanks
programme, which was made a public policy by the government in
2003. It then expanded the initiative into the One Land, Two Waters
Programme, which incorporated rainwater harvesting for crops and
livestock.

The basic principle is “coexisting with the semiaridâ€,
instead of insisting on the old failed strategies of “combating
droughtâ€, based on the construction of large structures that do
not serve the scattered rural population, who are the most
affected, but rather favour the large landowners.

Coexistence is not limited to the water question, but extends to
education, knowledge of local conditions, ecological forms of
production, and clean sources of energy.

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Living with Drought: Lessons from Brazil’s Semiarid Region

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Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Living with Drought: Lessons from Brazil’s Semiarid
Region