Brazil’s semiarid region has an immense population, which suffers from acute water shortages and structural scarcity for agricultural production due mainly to successive droughts.As the territory of two major hydrographic basins – the Amazon and the Rio de la Plata – and as a country with many social inequality issues related to water access (over 22 million people from the Northeastern region of Brazil live with irregular rainfall and little to no supply of water), Brazil engages in multiple efforts to share experiences with Southern partners on this subject, especially through technical and scientific cooperation.
Towards a Solution
After the creation of the National Water Agency (ANA), Brazil started to engage in trilateral and bilateral cooperation schemes through ABC to share experiences in water management with other Southern countries. Although Brazil has programmes across the globe, Brazilian efforts are directed especially towards countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa to take advantage of similar geographical and climate conditions and create joint solutions. The South-South Cooperation Project for Strengthening the Integrated Use of Hydric Resources in Latin America and the Caribbean and the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries was created and implemented with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with the goal to strengthen the national capacities in water management and solidify institutional and legal frameworks regarding this issue. The main goals of the project are: (a) the exchange of experiences and knowledge in the management of water resources; (b) training of technicians in the themes relevant to the management of water resources; and (c) training in the use of equipment, notably that aimed at monitoring the quantity and quality of water and for the prediction of critical hydrological events such as droughts and floods.
This overarching initiative involved several specific projects in multiple countries. For instance, a specific programme focused on sharing Brazilian experiences with the Project for Northeastern Region Subterranean Waters to adapt technologies obtained from Canada to access, purify and manage the subterranean water resources for the Northeastern semiarid region with Caribbean partners. The aim was to assist countries such as Barbados and Dominica to structure monitoring networks since Brazil used cutting-edge technology, mainly powered by solar panels, to access underground water and aerial technology to map aquifers and drilling zones and facilitate the allocation of manpower and resources in later phases, when subterranean waters would be accessed, stored and used for the rural populations’ drinking, agricultural and livestock needs during dry seasons. The project also gave rise to capacity-building programmes in Argentina, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador, to name a few, focusing either on public policy implementation or on development of human resources.
Among many outcomes, the project enabled the development of over a dozen bilateral projects, four interregional cooperation schemes, multiple agreements with international organizations (i.e., the Global Water Partnership, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, UNDP, the United Nations Environment Programme and UNESCO) and the 8th World Water Forum in Brasília in 2018. The project helped to structure the national systems of water management in Argentina and Mexico, modernize the hydrometeorological networks of Uruguay, and improve the river basin analysis and monitoring in Cuba. Finally, it produced a documentary entitled “National Hydrometeorologic Network” with professionals, researchers and technicians from ANA and partner organizations to share good practices and solutions in water management, serving as a knowledge product for capacity-building in other realities. All of these impacts result in a better environment for agricultural and livestock production, enabling both large-scale and smallholder farmers to sustain crop yields and market access and providing better conditions for food systems to work in a sustainable manner.
This South-South cooperation project is aligned with SDG 7 as well as with Brazilian principles for international cooperation. This initiative and its unfolding actions, focused on structural change and capacity-building, enable the qualification of the performance of technicians for water management and create favourable environments for discussion, negotiation and the search for solutions in a democratic way through a participative and decentralized process, which is essential for better management of water resources. The international cooperation of ANA in the area of water resources has also contributed to the fulfilment of commitments undertaken by the Government of Brazil, strengthening human rights, food security and environmental concerns in its target countries.