Whether it’s at the turn of a faucet or a bucket from the well, every person in the world relies on having clean water. In Ceará, Brazil, where water scarcity is an issue, communities rely on collected rainfall in cisterns to ensure that they have access to water through the year.

Cydney Seigerman, a PhD student in anthropology and Integrative Conservation at the University of Georgia, traveled to Ceará to learn more about these cisterns. In an educational video, local Brazilian, Maria Chaliane and Seigerman demonstrate the importance of cisterns.

“In the past, we didn’t really have ways to store water. We fetched water using a cart, a donkey, or a canister on one’s head,” Chaliane explained during the video interview.

She credits the cistern with dramatically improving their lives by ensuring that they have access to safe, clean water through the year.

Cisterns work by gathering the rainfall that lands on the roofs of each home into a gutter. That gutter then carries the rainwater into the cistern. Each cistern also includes an overflow faucet, which cleans the rainwater and ensures that it’s safe to drink.

Once the cistern is full, the townspeople use a hand pump to retrieve the water and use it for drinking, bathing, and brushing their teeth, as well as maintaining their agriculture and caring for farm animals. Pavement cisterns can hold up to 52,000 liters of water, much larger than cisterns meant solely for household use, which hold 16,000 liters.

In Ceará, rain isn’t just a form of precipitation. It has the ability to keep a whole town healthy and thriving–with plenty to drink and flourishing gardens—even through the heat of the summer.

Article by Sean Turner


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