Uniting Brazil (intro)

Updates on the Brazilian mission

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Drought in São Paulo

My wife lived in the top level of a three story divided house in our favela with a corrugated iron roof. The heat was almost unbearable at times. With the outside temperature regularly exceeding 36°C, the inside temperature would often be even higher than this because of the effective heating mechanism of her roof. Not ideal in the least.
Needless to say, when we got married and moved into the same house I was excited to get this air con installed in our new house, and so it was finished within two weeks of our return to Brazil. I started a conversation with the guy installing it about his work. He remarked that the need for aircons was new in São Paulo. Three or four years ago it was much cooler, and only people in Rio would get aircons for their hot weather. This weather was not normal to him.
Of course, to me, this is how São Paulo is, since I've only been here for two years. But apparently the heat has just increased dramatically in the last half a decade. Couple that with an unusual decrease in rainfall, especially over the water sources, and you have the recipe for drought in São Paulo that is going to put at risk many of the 20 million residents at risk of no water access. In fact, the pending plan that has been suggested to avoid a complete collapse of the system is to supply water for just 2 days every week.
That is going to be interesting.
We've already had our taps turned off for 10 hours at a time, leaving the toilets & basins full, and us waiting desperately to have a shower to rinse off the sweat from the 35°C weather outside.
The drought gave many signs over the last year or two, but public education was withheld with hopes that the rains would return and save the government from red faces. That has not happened, and so water rationing is increasing weekly. That public education could have helped and reduced the Brazilian custom of cleaning an entire house using a hosepipe in place of a broom, for one example.
All that's left now is to keep a few bottles of water around the house in hope that they will be sufficient for when the taps don't turn on anymore. But even that is looking a little bleak.
To make life a little more complicated a large part of electricity in São Paulo is hydro-electrically produced.
So if you don't hear from me for a while, pray for rain for São Paulo.