São Francisco

The Brazilian Semi-arid is home to more than 23 million people. It is the largest and most populous semi-arid region in the world. Most of its inhabitants are small farmers and depend on agriculture or raising animals to survive. Right now, the area is facing one of its most prolonged drought periods. It’s six years since the last rainy season.
Access to water is one of the main challenges for life in the semi-arid region.
To many Brazilians, the idea of the sertão is heavily connected with drought and poverty.


The biggest project involving the region is the Integration Project for the São Francisco River, or the Transposição. The project consists of diverting water from the São Francisco river, the most important river in the entire northeast, and distributing it all between three states using artificial waterways. Its implementation is very problematic, and it is bringing nothing but suffering to some residents. Some don’t have any access to the water in the canals. Those who tried to use this water were both arrested and prosecuted by the government. The project has already cost the Brazilian government two billion dollars, and it will cost three billion more to finish. Worse, there is no sign that the water will improve life in the region.