Brazil races against time to save drought-hit city, dying crops
The shrunken carcasses of cows lie in scorched fields outside the city of Campina Grande in northeast Brazil, and hungry goats search for food on the cracked-earth floor of the Boqueirao reservoir that serves the desperate town.
After five years of drought, farmer Edivaldo Brito says he cannot remember when the Boqueirão reservoir was last full. But he has never seen it this empty.
"We've lost everything: bananas, beans, potatoes," Brito said. "We have to walk 3 kilometers just to wash clothes."
Brazil's arid northeast is weathering its worst drought on record and Campina Grande, which has 400,000 residents that depend on the reservoir, is running out of water.
After two years of rationing, residents complain that water from the reservoir is dirty, smelly and undrinkable. Those who can afford to do so buy bottled water to cook, wash their teeth with, and even to give their pets.
Climate change has worsened the droughts in Brazil's northeast over the last 30 years, according to Eduardo Martins, head of Funceme, Ceará state's meteorological agency.
Rainfall has decreased and temperatures have risen, increasing demand for agricultural irrigation just as water supplies fell and evaporation accelerated.