Across the drought-stricken states of Brazil
By Lunae Parracho
As white dust follows your car along dirt roads that cut through a maze of dry arteries while the burning sun dries out your skin, you realize that the wilderness is all around you.
A meek, skinny cow stares intently at everyone passing by, as if some stranger might bring it water or food. Starving goats roam here and there, chewing on dry twigs and looking for something to drink.
After losing my way and walking for an hour or two between dry twigs and spiny cactus, I run into Hildefonso standing in front of his house. Time has also got lost in this wilderness and the farmer spends his days waiting for the rain to come. He has already waited two years in vain.
The municipality of Uauá, where he lives, is among those most affected by the drought in the state of Bahia, according to the Civil Defence. Water for survival is brought in from neighboring Canudos, but that municipality is also in a state of emergency, with the Cocorobó Dam now down to just 20% of its storage capacity.
Even a backcountry farmer accustomed to the sun’s heat no longer knows what to do when faced with the worst drought that Brazil’s northeast has seen in 50 years.