Agroecological and Social Transformations for Coexistence with Semi-Aridity in Brazil

Journal: Sustainability

Authors: Aldrin M. Pérez-Marin, Paul Rogé, Miguel A. Altieri, Luis F. Ulloa Forer, Luciano Silveira, Victor M. Oliveira, and Barbara E. Domingues-Leiva

Date published: 2017-06-08


This article explores whether a shift in development paradigm resulted in coexistence with semi-aridity for residents of the Semi-Arid region of Brazil (SAB). If so, which strategies contributed and which conditions facilitated it? We conducted a comparative analysis of the transformations that occurred in 10 territories of the SAB during two time periods: PI (1973–2001) when “development” policies almost exclusively aimed to “combat drought and its effects”; and PII (2002–2016) when a concept of coexistence with semi-aridity informed policy making. Our study from the 10 territories of the SAB show significant changes between PI and PII. On average, there was a substantial improvement in Access to Water Infrastructure (+33%∆), Diversification of Production Systems (Animals +36%∆; Crops +61%∆), Management of Common Pool Resources (+45%∆), Involvement in Spaces of Political Organizing (+24%∆), and Access to Public Programs (+29%∆). As such, “coexistence” went from concept to action as a consequence of structural, agroecological, social, and management transformations in combination with a strengthening of mechanisms for community reciprocity. These were characterized by (a) the creation of resource reserves for use during times of drought; (b) the efficient use of available natural resources; and (c) enhanced articulation between diverse actors.

Keywords: agroecology, social change, public policy, semi-arid regions, Brazil