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Issues: Latin America: Brazil Study

Access to Water, Sanitation,

and Public Health Services

among Urban Poor in Maceio, Brazil

by Shannyn Snyder


Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon

Shannyn Snyder

Shannyn Snyder

Access to water, sanitation, and public health services is a key indicator of quality of life, and these resources are greatly limited for the urban poor in Maceio, Brazil.

Maceio, the capital of Alagoas state, is an environment rich in natural resources and culture. A sharp rise in population, new construction, and globalized business have made a marked impact on the city, since its founding in 1815. Despite development, the urban poor struggle to advance, unable to afford the new standards of modern living, including finding the means of accumulating income, the challenges of retaining good health, and seeking quality access to basic needs.

Never designed for its current population, Maceio‟s original infrastructure is limited, and its ability to provide services to the entire community is severely strained.

This field study, based on field research in 2008 and 2009, examines the type of access impoverished citizens have to resources in urban areas of Maceio looking at three critical resources: water, sanitation and healthcare.

The thesis investigates whether lack of access to clean water, sanitation, and efficient health care led to population vulnerabilities to, in particular, waterborne and hygiene-related diseases, and what level of care was available to those affected by disease.

Using data gathering, primarily through interviews and participant observation, I was able to determine the proximal access to resources and services to the poor, and through these indicators, make connections between that access and the occurrence of disease in the population.

Although the study is meant to be anthropological rather than epidemiological, this observation of the “diseases of poverty” interprets various diseases as both widespread in the studied population, and a product of social inequality.

The imbalance of access uncovered during my fieldwork illuminates the growing concern in public health that unnecessary suffering and premature death, typically among the poor, still exists in modern Brazil. Inequality among those who greatly need services is rampant, yet the developing nation concentrates its expenditures on alternate priorities.

Water Crisis in São Paulo

By Jason Zheng

One does not need to imagine on what would happen if there was a shortage in the world’s fresh water supply, because São Paulo, Brazil historically and politically analyzes the water crisis of their region.

Brazil is the home of 12 percent of one of the world’s largest fresh water supply and as well 8.65 trillion cubic meter of renewable water resources a year. However, instead of being flourished with agricultural life, São Paulo struggle with water crisis that may just allow the 11 million to bring military control to wage war over resources.

There is no deception that the city’s reservoirs are decreasing, the current capacity is 27 percent, down from 40 percent in May 2014. The main reservoir system, Cantaeria had a capacity of 39%, totaling 380 billion liters on March 31, 2014. However, on April 6 2015, the reservoir decreased to 19.4% capacity including the fecal contamination. To eliminate the excessive declination of water, the government has decided to ration water. However, in this case, this would also mean that the people would flee the city of São Paulo, Rio de Janerio and Minas Gerais for more drinkable water.

If the people of São Paulo did flee their city, then the economy would also drastically decline. São Paulo is the largest and richest city in the country of Brazil. The government has cut off water supply to São Paulo already half a day and the people have organized protests and rallies.

To remain in the current situation and attempting to clean up the contamination, for an example the Billings reservoir, scientists have stated that such measures are “too little, too late, and overly expensive”. The cheapest way is to go forward on what Brazil has at the current times, and to ensure that these resources are protected from future contaminates. However, this would also mean that cleanup of polluted sites would also be delayed.

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