If the Earth’s entire fresh water supply were parceled out into drinking glasses, one out of every five of those glasses would be Brazilian in origin. Yet despite being the steward of20% of the Earth’s freshwater supply, Brazil is “very thirsty” according to a new World Bank report.
Poor water supply infrastructures are creating major geographic disparities–with a disproportional impact on impoverished areas and populations. Explosive urbanization is creating water shortages in areas such as San Paolo, and the World Bank predicts that shortages throughout the country may increase significantly in the coming years and decades.
The pressures on Brazil’s tenuous water supply chain are increasing. The demands of being the world’s second largest food exporter, responsible for 10% of the global corn supply, have locked up over 70% of the water supply in irrigation. Industries such as raw mineral extraction such as aluminum are creating polluting feedback loops and contaminating the water cycle. 60% of the country’s energy origininates from hydropower. And population growth symbolizzed the rise of gargantuan megacities like Rio create an exponential complexity in the types of water supply infrastructure that must be developed to quench the thirst.
Then there is the precious Amazon Basin, which is facing severe deforestation and threatens to relinquish its status as a net global carbon sink. Compound this with the fires, floods, and droughts wrought by climate change, and an anvil of multiple stressors is dropping on an already sickly water supply system.
For the entire global community, the well being of one fifth of the planet’s freshwater and a major contributor to global food security dependens on how Brazil’s water supply chains can handle unprecedented stress going forward.
[Image: Record low San Paolo water reserves in 2014 via telesurtv]
Programming Note: I’m looking forward to sharing a new lineup of fall podcasts with you in the coming months! Next week, I hope to announce who our September guest will be.
The ReliefAnalysis site will have new components coming too–with sections on “The Geography of Disruption” and “Humanitarian Evolution” being developed which are becoming the core of the ReliefAnalysis vision and mission.
A new detailed blogroll is under development as well. David Korn, who has coached me with his extremely effective and transformational heuristical style, is featured in the beta version of this page. David’s superb strategic and tactical advice results in processes that deliver tangible and measurable tactical outcomes; they have been vital to the relaunch of ReliefAnalysis. Check out his site and/or contact me anytime for more. Soon to follow on the detailed blogroll page, the great guests in Episodes 1-8, key cross-post partners, and more.