For centuries the hinterland of Northeastern Brazil has been affected by the drought. In order to change this stark reality, the Bolsonaro administration has been prioritizing the completion of the transposition work of the São Francisco river and the installation of water desalination stations (Potable Water Program).

Brazil is a country of continental dimensions with the most varied types of natural life. While the Amazon hydrographic basin, located in the northern region of the country, holds about 20% of the planet's fresh water, the semi-arid climate that prevails in the Northeast hinterland is marked by scarce rains and temporary rivers that disappear during the dry season.

 

During the reign of Emperor Dom Pedro II in the 19th century, there was already talk of the transposition of the São Francisco river as an alternative to mitigate the effects of the drought in that region. Known as the national integration river, the São Francisco is a permanent river with 2,700 km in length with the source in the state Minas Gerais and passing through four states of the Northeast (Bahia, Pernambuco, Alagoas and Sergipe).

 

The transposition work of the São Francisco river started in 2007 with the objective of building 477 km of channels for the transfer of its water to supply dams and intermittent rivers in the states of Pernambuco, Paraíba, Rio Grande do Norte and Ceará.

 

Like several other works initiated in previous Workers' Party administrations, notably during the administration of President Lula, the history of the transposition of “Old Chico” involved overpricing and embezzlement of public funds. Initially budgeted at R$ 4.5 billion, it is estimated that the work will cost around R$ 12 billion.

Brazil Uncovered - Former presidents Lula and Dilma: empty promises.
Credit: PT/ internet
Former presidents Lula and Dilma: empty promises.

Having dragged along for 13 years, the São Francisco river transposition project is now close to completion because President Jair Bolsonaro has been committed to it. It will be a dream come true for the Northeast to see “the hinterland turn into a sea”.

Brazil Uncovered - President Bolsonaro: delivery.
Credit: Isto É / internet
President Bolsonaro: delivery.

According to the Ministry of Regional Development, the transposition of “Old Chico” is the largest water project in the country and when it is completed, it will benefit around 12 million people in 390 municipalities.

 

But the Bolsonaro Government's commitment to the Northeastern hinterland goes beyond the transposition of the São Francisco River. Another example is the Potable Water Program, which fulfills a basic human need -- drinking water. It consists in well drilling and construction of small water desalination stations, with the capacity to provide 10 liters a day of drinking water per person, reaching up to 400 people (100 families) living in rural communities, every day.

 

The Ministry of Regional Development stated that from 2019 to 2022, during President Bolsonaro's government, 619 new desalination systems will be installed, a 105% increase in the number of operating units compared to the 590 in 2018. As of November 2020, 240 systems have been built, totaling 830 stations producing 3.2 million liters of drinking water per day, impacting around 320 thousand people.

 

Hunger and thirst are predictable consequences of lack of water, as crops and livestock are decimated by drought. The completion of the transposition work on the São Francisco River and the installation of desalinizers in rural communities will have a major impact in the life of the country’s Northeast.

 

Access to water means livelihood, health, freedom and human dignity. Having been denied access to these basic rights for generations, the people of the Northeast are only a few years away from accomplishing them.

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