With a population of over 200 million people, Brazil stands as one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Its large population begs a simple question; does Brazil have an adequate amount of resources, including clean water, to support its people? Unfortunately, sanitation in Brazil is far from ideal, but the good news is that the country’s access to clean water has been steadily improving since 2010. Below are 10 facts about sanitation in Brazil.
10 Facts About Sanitation in Brazil
- Sewage Treatment: According to a Forbes article from early 2015, only around 47 percent of people in Brazil had access to sewage services and only 63 percent of the sewage was treated. This means that Brazil collected and treated less than 30 percent of the sewage that its residents produced.
- Urban Sewage Collection: In terms of the urban population in Brazil, around 55 percent had access to sewage collection. Meanwhile, less than 35 percent actually received sewage treatment.
- Unequal Water and Sanitation Access: Though it has about a fifth of the world’s water supply, there is unequal access to water and sanitation in Brazil. Only 43 percent of the poorest 40 percent of the population had access to toilets that connect to the country’s sanitation networks in 2013.
- Industrial Effluents: According to the World Bank in 2016, Brazil found industrial effluents, such as heavy metals, in bodies of water. As a result, surrounding rivers are unsafe sources for water and this has forced cities around the region to find water from distant basins and wells. The World Bank also stated that the expected growth of industrial complexes would likely worsen this problem in the near future.
- Wealth Inequality: In 2014, the top 20 cities for sanitation in Brazil reportedly spent twice as much as the 10 worst cities, meaning that a key source of the sanitation problems plaguing Brazil is wealth inequality. In 2017, Brazil was also reportedly behind poorer countries like Peru and Bolivia in terms of how sanitary it is.
- National Public Sanitation Plan: Brazil established a National Public Sanitation Plan over a decade ago in order to provide 93 percent of Brazilian houses with a proper sewage system and a safe water supply. According to The Brazilian Report, however, it may take until 2050 for it achieve its goal.
- Deforestation: In 2017, reports showed that Sao Paulo is in danger of devastating water shortages as a result of deforestation in the Amazon forest. As a result of this, the mayor of Sao Paulo issued a statement about the importance of preserving the rainforest and promoting recycling.
- Water Shortages: In 2014-2015, Sao Paulo faced a severe drought that led to the declaration of a state of calamity. In cities like Itu, the water shortage became so bad that people fought over and looted emergency water trucks and some communities resorted to using buckets from swimming pools in order to flush their toilets.
- Safe Water and Sanitation: According to Water.org, there are currently around 4 million people in Brazil who do not have access to safe water. Meanwhile, there are around 24 million people who do not have proper sanitation.
- The WaterCredit Solution: In 2014, Brazil became an important country for the expansion of Water.org’s WaterCredit solution. This solution aims to offer improvements regarding water and sanitation in Brazil through a collaboration with local partners and financial institutions. According to the Water.org website, this program has reached 9,000 people, and its partners dispursed $2.2 million in loans.
In general, the key takeaway is that despite its fairly large economy, sanitation in Brazil has a long way to go. Due to its large population, organizations like Water.org and the National Public Sanitation Plan will need to do significant work in order to ensure that Brazil will evenly distribute water and sanitation among its citizens.
– Adam Abuelheiga