5. The technology of rainwater harvesting
systems is known, but "what is most needed is the moral acceptance
of the technology and the political will to implement the systems".
In Northeastern Brazil most research, especially in rainwater harvesting
for agriculture, was done by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Center
for the Semi-Arid Tropics - CPATSA. But the methods themselves were spread
out by a movement of rural people who understood the possibilities available
in a semiarid climate and who knew how to make the necessary adaptations.
Rainwater harvesting plants like cacti or the umbuzeiro, which retains
rainwater in its potato-roots (Fig.11)
are the best examples of plants for people how to live in a semiarid region.
Following nature, the rural people started constructing cisterns and implanting
sub-surface impoundments on gentle slopes near their villages.
Women played an important role in this process: they have been the ones
who had to provide and manage the water use of households. They are fetching
water from distant points or watering the vegetable garden. Therefore
they want and need to be included in everything that relates to improving
the water supply. On a local scale, women are the water managers, responsible
for its collection and distribution (Fig
Today rural workers unions and NGOs play an important role in the organization,
the carrying out and financing of rainwater harvesting projects. Throughout
Brazil's semiarid region, these workers and their organizations are trying
to convince politicians at a local and a state level of the possibility
of sustainable development for the region, excluding the necessity for
big irrigation projects from rivers or groundwater.