"The rainwater tanks are the best invention in the world for us," said Maria de Lourdes Feitosa, 46, who recalls the deadly droughts of the past in Brazil's semiarid Northeast region.
"The biodigester really gives a huge boost to those who have the courage to do things," said Maria das Dores Alves da Silva, based on her own experience as a 63-year-old small farmer.
Basic sanitation, a sector that is undervalued because, according to politicians, it does not bring in votes, has gained relevance in Brazil due to the pandemic that has hit the poor especially hard and the drought that threatens millions of people.
No one died of hunger during the worst drought in Brazil's semiarid ecoregion, between 2011 and 2018, in sharp contrast to the past when scarce rainfall caused deaths, looting, a mass exodus to the South and bloody conflicts.
After centuries of poverty, marginalisation from national development policies and a lack of support for positive local practices and projects, the semiarid regions of Latin America are preparing to forge their own agricultural paths by sharing knowledge, in a new and unprecedented initiative.
Irrigated green fields of vineyards and monoculture crops coexist in Brazil’s semiarid Northeast with dry plains dotted with flowering cacti and native crops traditionally planted by the locals. Two models of development in struggle, with very different fruits.
The decisions taken by the Brazilian government in the fight against drought in the country’s semiarid Northeast are an example of the disconnect between politicians and the citizens, which triggered an unexpected wave of protests in June.