Socio-Economic Impact of Water Harvesting in Brazil Print E-mail

Assessing new investment opportunites for farmers of the BOP 

by Simon Locher

Abstract

Rural poor in the Alto Jequitinhonha are heavily affected by water scarecity and environmental degradation. In order to reduce the challenges the farmers face in one of the poorest regions in Brazil, the Swiss Foundation Vivamos Mejor invests since 2008 in rainwater harvesting technologies. The goal of the investments is to offer new opportunities to the farmers and to improve their resilience. The local NGO Centro de Agricultura Alternativa Vicente Nica already attended 151 families directly with the construction of ponds, basins and diques as well as their communitarian work, sponsored by Vivamos Mejor. However, the socio-economic impact of the NGO’s activity and more specifically of the water harvesting technologies needs to be explored further.

The current study tries to close the gap and analyses the changes in the livelihood strategy provoked by the constructions by means of the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework. Furthermore, an economic payback calculation is conducted in order to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the installations. The rainwater harvesting technology has a positive impact on the agricultural production and the development of the local economy, once the farmer is adapted to the new reality.