The semi arid region of Brazil today is affected by the worst drought in 40 years. In many regions, there has been no rainfall at all for over 9 months. In other regions, rainfall has reach minimum level of 200 mm over the past year compared to long-term average of 600 to 800 mm/year. Over 500 municipalities have declared “state of calamity” and started receiving government subsidies after an in-situ evaluation from government officials. The subsidies are used mostly to distribute water coming from areas very far away through trucks and to distribute food to the population and for the animal. Cattle is dying very quickly and farmers are loosing a lot of money - 100% of their harvest is gone this year. So the situation is very critical. People started moving out of the region, at least temporarily, looking for jobs in urban areas. Some assessments point out that this could just be the beginning because to get out of this emergency state, the region needs quiet a lot of heavy rains to fill up the reservoirs. This is something that happens over months or years. Today finding solutions to limit the socioeconomic impacts of the drought in the semi-arid region of Brazil has become a key priority for all 9 states that compose the semi-arid region (Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Maranhão, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte e Sergipe). Apparently the state that is most hit by the drought is Bahia, where the Adapta Sertao project is located. Many news and videos can be found (in Portuguese) on the web through search engines using the following keywords “seca nordeste 2012”
Adapta Sertao has organized a Civil Society Forum - Water Forum, Pintadas, 24th and 25th of May 2012:
Objective of the meeting: about 150 participants were invited to participate in a Water Forum to discuss the heavy drought that is affecting the region and try to find political support to develop long-term solutions. It was clear from the discussions that climate change is not included at all in the policy making mechanisms. Unfortunately policy makers seem to focus on the situation only in periods of calamities and find solutions that are not structural. A main concerned that was expressed during the forum is that when eventually the situation goes back to normality, also the policy making engine turns off and gets again disconnected from the reality. The key point is that the situation that today is affecting the region could become the baseline scenario by the end of the century due to climate change. The result would be an aridification of the region that from semi-arid would become arid or even desert in some parts.
The water forum was organized to identify specific requests from civil society and local farmers and community organizations of the Bacia do jacuipe county where Pintadas is located (250,000 people). The objective was to bring these requests to policy makers of the Bahia state in July of 2012.