14, November, 2011

Water and Climate Change: Improving Access and Management in Semi-Arid Brazil

Climate change is worsening the water scarcity dry areas already face. Through the combined action of civil society and government, Brazil has managed to both improve water supply and put water to its most productive use.

Water security is becoming increasingly problematic in semi-arid regions as a result of climate change. In response, Brazil’s federal government implemented two large programmes to build water infrastructure and facilitate access.  However, the initiatives had a limited focus on water management, a gap that was filled by civil society to help put water to its most productive use.  This brief describes these complementary initiatives, focusing on offering useful lessons learned for readers in other regions.

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Key Lessons:

  • Policies and practices focusing on both water supply and use have to be implemented in parallel.
  • Promoting efficient water use seems to work best when combining community education by civil society groups with disseminating simple, cost-effective technology.
  • Water infrastructure, such as rainwater harvesting dams and wells, when combined with drip irrigation, will help farmers continue to produce as rain-fed agriculture becomes more difficult due to climate change.

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