2012-2015’s Brazilian water crisis and adaptation: an analysis from the social media information

Carlos Galvao, Ricardo Pedrosa, Marcia Ribeiro, Ana Cristina Silva

Thursday 2 july 2015

11:15 - 11:30h at Europe 1 (level 0)

Themes: (T) Special session, (ST) Adaptation to global changes in water resources management

Parallel session: 11J. Special Session: Adaptation to Global Changes in Water Resources Management (WRM)

Since 2012, Brazil has suffered a major drought and consequent water crisis, affecting mainly the north-eastern and the south-eastern regions of the country. The semi-arid part of the north-eastern region has a long history of droughts that periodically affects municipal and irrigation supply, with serious social and economic consequences. The current three-year drought started in 2012, and gradually left several cities in emergency situation. On the other hand, south-eastern region’s drought was triggered by below-average rainfall and inflow during the rainy seasons since 2013. The State of São Paulo and, particularly, its capital, the City of São Paulo, have their municipal water supply in critical situation. The crisis has raised a lively debate, being the social media a relevant agent in conveying information and fostering public participation in the discussion. Some of the main questions raised in the discussions in both regions were: could the crisis be avoided or minimized? How can the society, institutions and water management avoid similar crisis in the future? This paper reports the analysis of the information disseminated through the social media during this year, including the associated debate. Information from traditional media, such as newspapers, blogs, tweeter and search engines were classified and analysed with respect to the following questions: (a) is the information contributing to understand the roots of the crisis? and, (b) has the information raised concern on adaptation issues? We found that most of the information lacks the essence of the water resources management system and, thus, leads to biased judgements on the causes and solutions of the problem. As could be expected, the issue of adaptation, regarded as measures for long-term risk management was not much cited or well addressed by the media and by the public debate. On the other hand, measures for reducing water consumption in the short term, which can be taken as crisis management adaptation measures, were widely disseminated by the media and social networks.