(Brasilia, 05/166/2017) – Mayors from all Brazilian regions present their main city issues to the federal government during the 20th March to Brasilia in Defense of Towns. The March began this Tuesday (05/16) and ends on Thursday (05/18), in Brasilia, and the theme this year is “Brazil in reform”. Sanitation, health, environment and climate changes – aspects related to the 8th World Water Forum – will be under discussion, among other topics. One of the March’s goals is to decentralize management so that towns can adapt to their demands.

When it comes to water resource management, mayors acknowledge that the debate in their towns is strategical to improve life quality and local economy, but there is still a lot to do. The theme is a central issue for the Forum, which seeks to mobilize local authorities by placing water among management priorities.

Public Health
João Dourado, a town located in mid-northern Bahia, is known as the “Town of Onions” due to its large local production. With about 22 thousand inhabitants, the agricultural activity is the foundation of the local economy; it generates employment and concerns town managers. “Most part of the population uses poor quality water”, states Celso Dourado, town mayor.

Nitrate, contained in fertilizers used in agriculture, contaminates Irecê aquifer, which supplies water to the region. A research by the Federal University of Bahia points out that wells in the region has 18 times more nitrate than the level recommended by the Ministry of Health. According to the Brazilian National Cancer Institute (INCA), nitrate consumption may cause stomach and esophagus cancer. “The World Water Forum will be an opportunity to debate this issue, which is a matter of public health”, concludes Dourado.

In Rio Grande do Sul, for instance, the mayors of Pirapó and Desesseis de Novembro, Auri Kochhann and Ademir Gonzatto, respectively, stated that there are no concrete actions yet to improve the water management. “We need to invest in sanitation, but we lack resources”, says Gonzatto.

The mayor of Severina (SP), Celso Silva, said they are creating a commission to address a better water use. “We want to build a sewage treatment plant. We came to the March to seek for the federal government partnership to make this action feasible”, he mentioned.

Space for exchange of experiences

The 8th World Water Forum is attending the 20th March to Brasilia in Defense of Towns. Town managers are welcome to take part in the Forum’s preparatory process. The idea is to enhance the importance of cooperation between towns in order to change local realities and promote a sustainable economic development by the exchange of good practices in water resource management.

Opening ceremony

During the opening ceremony, which President Michael Temer attended, the president of the Brazilian National Town Confederation, Paulo Ziulkoski, called the attention to the need to share competence between the federal, state and local governments. One of the aspects mentioned was the improvement of basic sanitation.

According to the data from the Ministry of Cities, to provide everybody with access to waste collection, sanitation and water services, an investment of more than BRL 2 billions would be required by 2033. “How can towns face this reality without funds? It is everybody’s problem, it is an important issue, and it cannot be centralized in local governments”, inquired Ziulkoski. He also emphasized that he is not against the tax adjustment proposed by the government, but this measure cannot affect social issues, such as water and health.