According to the BBC, Brazil's Minister of Environment, Izabella Teixeira said the country's three most populous states are experiencing their worst drought since 1930 and describes the water crisis as delicate and worrying.
It is against this backdrop that Teixeira made a call for the states of Sao Paula, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais to save water. The appeal was made just after an emergency meeting in Brasilia.
The Guiana Shield Facility (GSF) is particularly concerned since the drought is expected to be affect Industry and agriculture which will cause further damage to Brazil's troubled economy. In October, 2014, the GSF initially published an article on its website about this situation and has since continued to follow closely. (Click here to read the article).
In that article, it was pointed out that Some Brazilian scientists say the absence of rain has dried up rivers and reservoirs in central and southeast Brazil and it is not just a quirk of nature, but a change brought about by a combination of the continuing deforestation of the Amazon and global warming.
Further, the recent report from the BBC indicates that the drought is also having an impact on energy supplies, with reduced generation from hydroelectric dams.
The crisis began in Sao Paulo, where hundreds of thousands of residents have been affected by frequent cuts in water supplies.
Brazil's TV Globo reported that the city's Cantareira reservoir system, which serves over eight million people, has now dropped to 5.2% of its capacity despite recent rain.
Governor Geraldo Alckmin has taken several measures, such as raising charges for high consumption levels, offering discounts to those who reduce use, and limiting the amounts captured by industries and agriculture from rivers.
However, some believe that despite all the efforts, poor planning and politics caused the situation to worsen.
In Rio de Janeiro state, the main water reservoir has dropped to level zero for the first time since it was built. However, Environment Secretary Andre Correa said, there was enough water in other reservoirs to avoid rationing in Rio de Janeiro for at least another six months.
Rio and Minas Gerais are asking residents and industries to reduce water consumption by as much as 30%.
The Guiana Shield forests generate and transfer moisture into Amazonia and beyond through the South American Low Level Jet. This is important to the survival of the Amazon forest and to regions dependent on its evaporative water (e.g. LaPlata Basin) where convective activity leads to rainfall.
The GSF is coordinating actions that promote forest conservation and freshwater management within the Guiana Shield through a technical network called WAVINGS - Water Views and Information Network in the Guiana Shield. Since there are many projects which focus on biodiversity of forest ecosystems issues and only few joint initiatives on water management, the network is enhancing cooperation actions among water stakeholders in the countries of the Guiana Shield, through sharing of knowledge, experiences and views on water management.
In addition, the GSF recognizes that water resources management issues are fundamental and relevant at the hydro-geological scale of the Guiana Shield since all the countries of the Guiana Shield share transboundary river basins and use of common water resources such as drinking water, transport, energy and fishing.
Monitoring is an essential feature of the programme of the GSF with its goal to secure the ecological and cultural integrity of its globally and geopolitically significant natural capital. With increasing insights in the role of (tropical) forests in mitigation of and adaptation to climate change and the development of financial and legal instruments under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to assure and enhance that role of forests (REDD+), applying the strictest measures of, as it is called, Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV), the GSF decided to continue and expand its monitoring programme.
The expansion is to be found in the use of new and more refined technologies, integrating the large body of more and more freely available data into the system, making the system more participatory by involving local communities using handhelds and smartphones for groundtruthing purposes, and of course to open up the system for the new generation of satellites (Landsat 8 by NASA, ALOS-2 by JAXA and the Sentinels by ESA/EU). Due to its flexibility in terms of observation scale, the FOrest REmote Sensing & Exchange Network monitoring system allows a broad audience of stakeholders to benefit from the collected geoinformation and derived map products.
As such, GSF is supporting a project in Amazonas state with Secretary of Rural Production of the State of Amazonas – SEPROR. The project focuses on digital hydro-geomorphological map of the Guiana Shield – support for sustainable management of natural resources.
The project focuses on the intensive use of satellite images, geographic information system (GIS) processing and specific knowledge of technical analysis to conduct geomorphological mapping and the mapping of watersheds.