The northeast of Brazil is one of the country’s poorest regions. The population suffers from recurrent droughts and lack of access to water sources and technology. Adaptive technology during periods of droughts is crucial for their survival. Sharing of experiences and best practices among women groups in a solidary and cooperative way is increasing their political and economic empowerment.
Brazil has been struggling to help the most vulnerable populations overcome the challenges of inequalities and social exclusion. The support of civil society organisations can be crucial to provide the marginalised populations, especially women, with sustainable livelihoods.
The European Union is supporting a network of such organisations, being led by, the Feminist Centre 8 March (CF8 - Centro Feminista 8 de Março), that helps women groups and economic cooperatives, in partnership with other civil society organizations and networks such as Rede Xique Xique.
Women are prevented from participating in decision making around public resources that have become scarcer. Therefore, the work of organisations such as CF8 and Rede Xique Xique, among others, is key to strengthen the empowerment of women in these rural areas.
The EU funded project, which is coordinated by CF8, is strengthening the capacities of civil society organizations working on gender issues, so women’s needs are considered in regional and national policies.
The power of water
The project also works at improving the living conditions of women living in poverty, by promoting productive innovation, in particular the re-use of water for residential and commercial applications. Such technology is needed due to the lack of water sources in the region. Through the organisations, women are provided with a platform to participate in political decision making, allowing women to voice their particular concerns and requirements, for better and more impactful policy making.
Women are producing corn in Agrovila Palmares, municipality of Apodi, State of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil.
The re-use of water allows the population to increase their food production, particularly fruits and vegetables. The production is for their own subsistence but also for commercialisation, usually the only source of income of female producers. Women are now contributing more to family incomes and increasing their economic independence with small-scale agro-food production in ecological gardens, grown in the back of their houses.
The rational use of water sources and the re-use of water together with agro-ecological production means natural resources are being used more sustainably. Technical knowledge and applications are being improved, while at the same time, women from the region are being socially and politically mobilised, which has attracted a higher number of women that live in the dry areas of the rural Northeast, reducing the vulnerability of these women and their communities, leading to less inequality in this impoverished region.