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Pomona College

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development


This paper discusses water scarcity issues and the potential for alleviation in the semi-­‐arid region of Northeast Brazil during the current period of heavy drought. An overview of the current system of water provision and drought-­‐alleviation strategies provide a context to dissect and evaluate two water policy case studies, the Agua para Todos program and the San Francisco River diversion project. Information was collected firsthand from government officials, professors, students and beneficiaries of the Agua para Todos program in the rural interior city of Acarape, Ceará. Field data gathered from the state-­‐run water company Cagece and people working towards urban reform in the state capital, Fortaleza, provide some contrast and create a more comprehensive overview of Northeast Brazil’s water access issues and responses. As the Brazilian government promotes industrial agricultural interests over water scarcity alleviation in rural Northeast Brazil through massive projects like the diversion of the Rio São Francisco, researching the impacts of the drought on the region’s population and the effectiveness of measures taken to improve living conditions becomes particularly relevant. This paper compares these two different projects, confronting water ethics, the role of water in human and economic development, and the ways communities act to combat drought along the way.


Latin American Studies | Water Resource Management


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