Water Shortages Reach Critical Levels
Brazil’s wealthiest city faces its worst drought in nearly a century. The situation has also affected the southeastern states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, and Espirito Santo, but it is in São Paulo—home to 20 million people—where the crisis is even more serious. This may have an impact on assignees moving to Brazil, so companies need to follow this issue closely.
Many people in São Paulo have been facing sporadic water cutoffs since 2014. Sabesp (São Paulo’s water management company) has been turning off the water supply in some districts every day between 1 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Furthermore, officials say that a drastic water rationing system may be necessary, which means that the population of some districts could have their water cut off for five out of seven days a week. This drastic rationing has been denied by Geraldo Alckmin, São Paulo’s governor, who insists that no decision has been made yet. In addition, the government has been widely criticized for failing to come up with a preventive plan for the crisis. On February 26, people went into the streets of São Paulo to protest against the water shortage, and they spoke out for transparency and a more effective solution from the government.
The drought was caused mainly by an unusually low level of rainfall, but population growth, polluted rivers, and even deforestation are also linked as possible causes. The main reservoir system that feeds the city continues to run very low, even with recent rainfall that changed the water level only slightly.
Meanwhile, the government has come up with some incentive programs to support the population’s water-saving habits, offering discounts and bonuses for those who manage to save as much as they can. On the other hand, those who fail to save water are likely to pay a penalty. Amongst planned solutions is the construction of new reservoirs, though this project is not expected to be completed anytime soon.
What Relocation Managers Can Do
Many of Cartus’ clients have communicated to employees in their Brazilian organizations to be aware of the crisis. This is also an attempt to make them conscious of their own responsibilities in this critical moment.
Our Destination Services providers are willing to include tips and information about the water shortage during their first contact with the assignee, including valuable advice about how to save water and information regarding failure to conserve water, such as being charged with extra fees that cannot be contested. They will also inform assignees about neighborhoods where cutoffs have been more frequent.
The impact of this unusual crisis on assignees and their companies in the affected cities will continue to be monitored by the Cartus Brazil team. And as for the people in São Paulo, for the time being, hope can come only from the sky—literally.