Drought adaptation and development: small-scale irrigated agriculture in northeast Brazil

Lauren Herwehe, Christopher A Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Water scarcity has intensified in northeast Brazil over the past decade. The same period has brought economic growth, aggressive government-funded social support programmes, and technological advancements. These latter factors have led to widespread, successful, and largely unintended adaptation to increasing climatic stress. With specific focus on the experience of irrigated farmers in Pernambuco during the 2011–2013 drought, the worst in a half century, in this article, we examine how Brazil’s societal changes have led to the emergence of unique climate adaptation strategies. To put this into context, income diversification, particularly in the form of employment in clothing production, provides a stable back-up income for farmers amidst environmental uncertainty. Aggressive poverty alleviation programmes, foundational to the presidential administrations of Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, have had the spillover benefit of decreasing climate vulnerability. Efficient irrigation technology, which farmers have adopted primarily in an effort to decrease erosion and labour needs, saves water and decreases drought vulnerability. In summary, we find that the study area serves as a global example that economic, political, and social developments not aimed at climate adaptation can inadvertently facilitate it and decrease drought vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalClimate and Development
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Mar 23 2017

Fingerprint

small-scale agriculture
drought
vulnerability
farmer
Brazil
climate
agriculture
income
water
political development
poverty alleviation
social development
clothing
irrigation
diversification
erosion
social support
economic growth
economic development
labor

Keywords

  • adaptation
  • climate change
  • Latin America
  • vulnerability
  • water management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development

Cite this

Drought adaptation and development : small-scale irrigated agriculture in northeast Brazil. / Herwehe, Lauren; Scott, Christopher A.

In: Climate and Development, 23.03.2017, p. 1-10.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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