Even though Brazil is known as a tropical country with abundant forest and with approximately 12% of the world’s fresh water reserves, there are semi-arid regions including a large part of the northeast and a small part of the southeast of the country. These regions are affected by water shortage which has been amplified by droughts that are more severe than the ones that used to occur.
Our project starts from the perspective that to manage drought better it is necessary to fully understand it. To do so, our project advances on understanding the human influences on drought. We will start our reflections on the Ceará State in Brazil. The kick-off meeting had the objective to bring the research group together to explore the region where the project will be developed, and to build bridges with other local stakeholders.
July 2019 was the first time the whole group met in person, because the selection process for the PhD positions was virtual. At that point, we had only had a few online meetings. Also, it was an opportunity to explore the region, Sertão Central – Quixeramobim, where the project will be conducted.
On the first day, July 10th, we had a meeting at FUNCEME (Fundação Cearense de Metereologia e Recursos Hídricos), where each one of us had a chance to present a little about previous projects, interests, and discuss our perspectives on the 3DDD project.
On the following day, we went to the field. First, we met with local representatives of COGERH in Quixeramobim when the water supply situation of this region was presented to us. After this meeting we were warmly welcomed by a family of smallholder farmers. Their production is diverse and organic focused on their consumption. Sometimes they sell on the small markets but it is not their main goal. They explained to us the management of their backyard. The cistern, a water infrastructure to harvest rainwater, and multi-phase tank for purification and re-use of grey water.
After visiting their yard we had delicious snacks at the farmer’s house and took our first official group picture.
After that, we went to a larger property with irrigated fruit farming. It is a cooperative that focuses the production to sell in the markets. In this facility they also had a water re-use system for fresh water fish production.
On the third and last day, July 12th, before starting the workday, the early-birds went for a hike to watch the sunrise.
Following this fresh start, we went to a meeting in COGERH (Companhia de Gestão de Recursos Hídricos), Ceará’s water resources management company. It was our first step to understand the water management in the state.
Later we went to the University of Ceará (UFC) to meet the Dean to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between UFC and Wageningen University.
Hard work pays-off. On the last day, before going back to the Netherlands, part of the team enjoyed coconut water at the beach.