State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Water at last! Happy days for Milha, Brazil

It’s the last day of my visit to Brazil, where I’ve been getting to know the staff of the Columbia Water Center Brazilian office, and learning about the projects here. The projects are a fascinating mixture of down-to-earth (literally down in the earth) sustainable water access, and high level climate modeling to support water management decision making. I’ll post more detailed reports on different aspects of the project as I sort through the mass of materials and information, but I wanted to share some highlight photos right away.

This is part of the Brazilian team, which works out of offices at the Undiversidade Federal do Ceara in the city of Fortaleza.:

The State of Ceara isn’t the tropical jungle often associated with Brazil. It’s a dry region, which gets rain a few months of the year, and then basically nothing the rest of the time. Lack of water is one of the biggest issues for people in the rural areas, where many have no running water to their homes at all. This leads to social, health, financial, and education problems that effect the whole region.

In the village of Pedra Fina, in the inland municipality of Milha, a water delivery system existed for some families, while others went without. The CWC Infrastructure Project constructed a simple system to extended water service to all the remaining families, who have been enjoying running water for the last few weeks. Needless to say, the people are thrilled.

This photo is of the tap and water meter now operating at one home:

Before the project, households would have to make 4 – 8 trips per day to a water source, and bring water back to the houses in barrels strapped to the backs of donkeys. This boy has spent years doing this, but now has more time and energy for things like studying and play:

In the neighboring community of Inga, there was no water delivery at all. Here the CWC project built a system from scratch, including a water tower and piping for home delivery. The final connections are being made today, and water may start flowing to households as soon as tomorrow!

Now, families have to carry water for drinking, cooking and washings:

When the CWC project goes on line, these people, standing proudly in front of the new water tank they helped construct, will have running water to their homes:

This is just some of what the CWC Brazil team has been doing. The project, which is funded by the PepsiCo Foundation, is bringing water to a few communities to start with, but it is the beginning of an official process that may bring good quality drinking water to the whole region.

Watch for more later.

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13 years ago

Wow, really inspiring. This kind of thing can make a huge difference in day to day life for people.

Out of curiosity, are there any rainwater catchment systems there — if not for drinking water, for washing or other things? Or is there some reason why such systems are not advisable?

Julia Apland Hitz
13 years ago

Thanks for your comment.

Yes, there are some catchment systems, mostly used by groups of homes rather than people having one for each house. I think there is a cost issue for households installing their own, especially since all the rain comes over a few months, and then there would be no precipitation to catch the rest of the year.

Small reservoirs serve as general catchment, but there are still issues of quality and distance.