In September 2015, Brazil's São Francisco River was at its lowest level in a century. Photo: André Teixeira / O Globo

[Translation by Bing.]

By André Martins
14 September 2015

(O Globo) – The drought, the worst in a century in the São Francisco River, affects the lives of Brazilians of all ages and backgrounds who live in cities or villages bordering the river. The problems range from difficulty in taking care of the Earth up to the preservation of traditional cultures. The stories of these people help to understand some of the ills of the country, but their statements also bring hope of a better future.

It's hard to believe in the accuracy of the reporting of Edmund de Araújo, but the São Francisco River teaches that the truth is not always sufficient to explain what's going on with his people. At the age of 62 years, Edmund, a black man, loud and quiet, is the boatman who takes the inhabitants of the District of Cachoeira for the municipality of Fancy Point, in the North of Minas Gerais. He remembers working from Sunday to Sunday from 5:30 till 11:00 pm since 1990, and never, ever missed a day of work. Not sick, not for vacation, or to care for their three children. But he fears missing work because of drought.

Edmund is one of the 16 million Brazilians who live in the São Francisco River basin — a watercourse which rises in the Serra da Canastra, runs through five States and, after 2.7 thousand kilometers, meets the Atlantic Ocean. As most of these people, his life is connected to the river. Like everyone else, he suffers from drought that has lasted two years and is the most intense in a century of measurement of the river. […]

In any case, between glories and tragedies, the life of Antônio Augusto Lima Junior is on the terms that the people of large cities little or even unknown uses. The 43-year-old junior is environmental inspector on city of Januária in the North of Minas Gerais, and speaks with ease about footpaths, tributaries, silting up, sinks, and riparian vegetation. For those who are not accustomed to riverside culture, are unusual words. But for those who live day to day of the São Francisco River, are essential.

And there's still one more, this one with a cruel connotation to those who depend on their survival of the River: the drought.

“The best way you realize something is different with the San Francisco is paying attention in the water. She is green and without force. The River was never like this. Your water is often muddy, but today we live in a situation of siltation, sedimentation and low oxygenation,” explains the inspector. [more]

Rio São Francisco sofre com seca histórica


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