Eleven million people in the rural north-east of Brazil do not have a reliable supply of drinking water. It means that people must travel for miles to collect water from contaminated water holes. It's no surprise that infant mortality rates in the region are high, often due to diarrhoea or cholera. In addition, the region is also experiencing increasingly frequent droughts.
Oxfam has provided financial and technical support as part of a campaign to build one million cisterns which will benefit 5.5 million people living in this harsh region.
Cisterns are water tanks designed to collect rainfall from house roofs using gutters to channel the water from the roof into the cistern. It enables households like Francenilson Pereira’s to store the water collected during the rainy season and keep it clean.
A cistern can store 18,000 litres of water, which can supply a family of five with enough drinking and cooking water for at least eight months.
Local people build the cisterns for themselves, while Oxfam provides the appropriate training and building materials. Local people are also involved training others in their community.
Says Francenilson: "Before the cistern, we had to travel to collect water from a well 3km away or collect dirty water from a nearby pond before it dried up. Life is much better now. My family's health has improved and I’m growing 90 per cent more vegetables."