Photo credit: IPS
A puddle is all that is left in one of the reservoirs of the Cantareira System, which normally supplies nearly half of the São Paulo metropolitan region. Courtesy of Ninja/ContaDagua.org
Brazil – from the Droughts of the Northeast to São Paulo’s Thirst
By Mario Osava
“Life in the Northeast has gotten easier. With the government’s social benefits, people aren’t suffering the same deprivations as before, even during the current drought, one of the worst in history.” — Luciano de Almeida
Six million people in Brazil’s biggest city, São Paulo, may at some point find themselves without water. The February rains did not ward off the risk and could even aggravate it by postponing rationing measures which hydrologists have been demanding for the last six months.
The threat is especially frightening for millions of people who have flocked here from Brazil’s poorest region, the semi-arid Northeast, many of whom fled the droughts that are so frequent there.
The Nordestinos did not imagine that they would face a scarcity of water in this land of abundance, where most of them have prospered. The most famous of them, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, became a trade union leader and eventually president of the country from 2003 to 2011.
Many people in this city of 22 million people share his concern about storing more water, especially in the Zona Norte or northern zone of Greater São Paulo, which will be the first area affected by rationing if the state government decides to take measures aimed at guaranteeing water supplies year-round.
The Zona Norte is supplied by the Cantareira system of interconnecting reservoirs which, on the verge of collapse, is still providing water for six million people. It supplied nine million people up to mid-2014, when one-third of the demand was transferred to the other eight systems that provide water in the city.
It is precisely the Zona Norte that is home to many of the Nordestino migrants and their descendants, as reflected by the numerous restaurants that offer typical food from the Northeast, such as carne-de-sol (heavily salted beef cured in the sun), cassava flour and different kinds of beans.
Read the full article: IPS