The director general of Unesco, Koichiro Matsuura, and the Unesco representative in Brazil, Jorge Werthein, met with the minister of National Integration, Ciro Gomes, for talks on a partnership, which would extend the country’s water program for its semi-arid regions (ProÀgua Semi-Àrido) to the rest of Brazil.
Brazil’s semi-arid region extends throughout the Northeast region and parts of the state of Minas Gerais. The ProAgua Semi-Arido benefits some 1.3 million people and has a budget of US$ 330 million.
The partnership deal under discussion would have Unesco contract skilled personnel and provide logistical support, as well as assist in obtaining loans from the World Bank and the Bank of Japan for International Cooperation.
According to Rogerio Menescal, a coordinator at ProAgua Semi-írido, loans from solid international institutions would ensure the viability of the program. They would also come with low interest rates.
The battle against desertification was the subject of debates in Fortaleza, state of Ceará, last August, during the South American Conference to Combat Desertification.
The Secretary of Water Resources of the Ministry of Environment, João Bosco Senra, said that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the difficulties in implementing the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, ratified 10 years ago, as well as to verify what has been accomplished over this period and to discuss the launching of the National Action Program to Combat Desertification (PAN).
“The PAN was an endeavor carried out by state workshops and work groups in an integrated effort involving the government, various entities, and civil society,” said the Secretary, explaining that the program represents a planning instrument intended to define guidelines and major activities to combat and prevent the phenomenon of desertification in Brazilian regions with semi-arid and dry, sub-humid climates.