Research reveals food insecurity in Altamira post-Belo Monte dam construction

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The societal and biology effect of nan Belo Monte reservoir and hydroelectric powerfulness works successful Pará state, Brazil, has been called a "disaster" by researchers, environmentalists and respective media outlets. The harm has again been highlighted precocious successful an inspection report issued by nan Brazilian Institute for nan Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), an agency of nan Ministry for nan Environment and Climate Change. The inspectors detected silting and erosion of nan Xingu River, obstacles to stream navigation, a important summation successful character mortality, and nan impossibility of reproduction for respective food species, arsenic good arsenic disruptions to nan measurement of life of Indigenous and river-dwelling communities.

A caller study conducted pinch FAPESP's support focuses specifically connected nutrient insecurity successful Altamira, which is nan metropolis pinch nan largest organization successful nan region and has been dramatically affected by nan building of Belo Monte. Because of nan megaproject, Altamira became a hub for nan distribution of goods, services and nan logistics basal to nan building process, pinch a important effect connected its population. 

Construction took spot betwixt 2011 and 2015, causing nan city's organization to turn without capable readying to guarantee nan proviso of services to residents and migrants looking for work. The daze made Altamira 1 of Brazil's astir convulsive cities. Although its organization has declined since nan reservoir was completed, nan 2022 census recorded 126,279 inhabitants, 27.46% much than successful 2010, erstwhile nan erstwhile census was conducted. This maturation complaint compares pinch 6.46% for Brazil's full organization maturation successful nan aforesaid period.

The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, shows that 61% of Altamira's households knowledgeable immoderate level of nutrient insecurity and malnutrition successful 2022, erstwhile nan information was collected. 

We conducted nan study successful July 2022, 7 years aft building ended, visiting 500 households selected arsenic typical of nan city's socioeconomic strata and geographic areas. The standard utilized to measurement family nutrient insecurity is divided into 3 categories. We recovered nan worst nutrient insecurity successful nan poorest group, wherever heads of family had debased levels of acquisition attainment and unemployment was high. In addition, nan households pinch terrible nutrient insecurity had much members. Families displaced by nan reservoir and resettled elsewhere besides knowledgeable terrible nutrient insecurity." 

Igor Cavallini Johansen, first writer of nan article. Johansen is simply a demographer and a postdoctoral interrogator affiliated pinch nan State University of Campinas's Center for Environmental Studies (NEPAM-UNICAMP) successful São Paulo state

Unlike different studies of nutrient insecurity successful nan discourse of hydroelectric developments successful Brazil, this 1 utilized nan Brazilian Household Food Insecurity Scale, known by nan Portuguese-language acronym EBIA, Johansen said, explaining that nan standard is based connected a scientifically validated methodology for measuring entree to capable nutrient of capable quality. 

"The study included a questionnaire pinch 8 standardized items. The responses were scored utilizing nan EBIA standard to get astatine a classification of nutrient insecurity for each family successful nan sample," he said.

The households were classified into nan pursuing categories: (1) nutrient information (adequate nutrient amount and quality); (2) mild nutrient insecurity (food value impaired and uncertainty regarding early nutrient availability; (3) mean nutrient insecurity (inadequate diet, nutrient becoming scarce wrong nan household, children prioritized complete adults); (4) terrible nutrient insecurity (insufficient nutrient for each family members).

"We formulated 3 hypotheses: (1) households were affected by a scope of factors that together produced nutrient insecurity; (2) poorness played a cardinal role, and nan astir affected groups were those who had been forced to time off their homes and had been resettled successful purpose-built lodging projects, known arsenic RUCs; and (3) too nan effect of nan dam, nan problem was made worse by nan COVID-19 pandemic," Johansen said.

The study besides took into relationship respective socioeconomic variables arsenic correlates of nutrient insecurity, specified arsenic a wealthiness scale (poorest, intermediate, slightest poor) considering nan characteristics of nan home, ownership of vehicles and appliances, etc.; whether respondents were monthly handouts from nan Bolsa Família conditional rate transportation program; whether they had officially declared themselves affected by nan dam; whether they lived successful an RUC; nan number of family members and over-sixties; and nan caput of household's gender, tegument color, age, marital status, acquisition attainment and employment status. 

"All 3 hypotheses were confirmed. Predictably, nan various factors correlated pinch each other: nan effect of nan dam's building importantly accrued nan probability that family members lived successful an RUC, and this accrued nan likelihood that a family was poor, which successful move entailed a consequence of nutrient insecurity," Johansen said. "Access to nutrient of nan desired amount and value became much difficult for 69.7% of nan households aft building of nan reservoir was completed successful 2015." About half of these households (52.5%) said it had already been difficult earlier nan pandemic, and nan remainder blamed nan pandemic for nan worsening of nutrient insecurity since then.

"We besides recovered that households pinch 1 aliases much members aged 60 and complete knowledgeable little nutrient insecurity. This tin beryllium attributed to nan publication of old-age pensions to nan family income, perchance reducing their vulnerability to poorness and hence to nutrient insecurity," he noted.

The deficiency of a study conducted earlier nan dam's building and based connected nan EBIA standard was unfortunate, Johansen added, arsenic this could person been compared pinch nan results obtained aft its construction. "In immoderate event, it was a daze to find that 61% of nan households knowledgeable nutrient insecurity erstwhile nan consortium that built nan reservoir claimed to person invested BRL 6.5 billion, aliases astir USD 1.3 billion, successful social, biology and sustainability-related measures successful nan region betwixt 2016 and 2022. What was each that money utilized for?" he said.

The antagonistic effect of Belo Monte is not an isolated case. Several different megaprojects implemented successful nan Amazon person besides had important societal and biology broadside effects. Another study conducted by nan aforesaid investigation group and led by Caroline Arantes, a professor astatine West Virginia University successful nan United States showed that sportfishing communities mislaid accumulation and income aft building of nan Santo Antônio and Jirau hydroelectric projects successful Porto Velho, Rondônia state. The communities were forced to accommodate their sportfishing strategies and find different ways to gain a surviving successful consequence to nan effect of nan dams. Household depletion of food diminished importantly arsenic a result. "These communities had ever had food meals each day, but aft nan dams were built they were capable to do truthful only erstwhile aliases doubly a week, if not little often," Johansen said. The study successful mobility is published successful the Journal of Environmental Management.

Another anterior study, successful this lawsuit focusing connected a sportfishing organization connected nan Xingu River aft building of Belo Monte, showed that food became scarce and nutrient successful wide became much costly successful nan region. An article connected this study is published in nan journal Human Ecology.

All these studies progressive contributions by Professor Emilio F. Moran, main interrogator for nan project "After hydropower dams: societal and biology processes that hap aft nan building of Belo Monte, Jirau and Santo Antônio successful Brazilian Amazon", and supported by FAPESP via nan São Paulo Excellence Chair programme (SPEC). 

In summation to this grant, nan study was supported by a postdoctoral scholarship awarded to Johansen, and a postdoctoral scholarship awarded to Vanessa Cristine e Souza Reis, besides a personnel of nan investigation group.


Journal reference:

Johansen, I. C., et al. (2024). Poverty–Food Insecurity Nexus successful nan Post-Construction Context of a Large Hydropower Dam successful nan Brazilian Amazon. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health/International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.