Brazil gov’t engineering project diverts water to poor farmers

World Today

Northeastern Brazil is the country’s poorest and driest region in the country. Over the last five years, it’s been facing its worst drought in at least 100 years.

CGTN’s Paulo Cabral reports on the latest.

People in Brazil’s northeastern countryside are no stranger to droughts: it’s a recurring feature of this region. After five years of little or no rain, more than 720 cities declared a state emergency.

In 2015, the family of Aparecida dos Santos were hopeful for rain and they planted their beans and corn. The rainy season didn’t come and the sprouts dried up in the field.

Like millions of other families they survive now only on government grants and on some of the livestock.

Families also get a monthly allowance of drinking water brought to communities in tanker trucks.

There’s a major engineering project underway to take water from the San Francisco River, the biggest in the region, to further corners of the countryside.

But the water project has had numerous delays since being introduced in 2011, but is expected to be completed by 2018.

This is one of two spots in the San Francisco River, where water is diverted into these canals and taken hundreds of kilometers into Brazil’s northeastern countryside. There is no argument that the population that live in this area subjected to periodic droughts badly need the water, but the question is whether there is enough of it to serve all of them.

Activists and environmentalists in the region said local solutions, which are faster and require less water, would be more effective.

Goat herder Pedrinho received government assistance to build a reservoir that captures rain water but it’s storage capacity is limited.

But since his brother, who lives nearby, built a water well with government funding on his property, the family is hopeful to survive this drought.

This is a tough environment but experience has shown these people that by combining different initiatives and techniques, it is possible to improve the conditions within their community.