Resident of the Mata do Sossego Settlement, located in the Bahia municipality of Igrapiúna, Manoel Cardoso cares for several different plantations, such as guarana, clove and rubber trees, among others, and still works as a community health agent. However, the river source located on his property is what motivates him to strengthen his role as a citizen each day: “I understand the importance of conserving it and I do this, primarily to contribute toward many people’s well being,” he said.
Cardoso is right. The water that flows from his source – the Vargido River, tributary of the Juliana River Watershed – continues on to the Pancada Grande Waterfall, which is located in the Pratigi Environmental Protection Area (EPA), with a drop of 65 meters and surrounded by dense vegetation. From the waterfall, the tributary flows until the border between the municipalities of Igrapiúna and Ituberá, ending in the estuarine region, where the main production activities include fishing and aquiculture. “I feel that I am one of those responsible for ensuring that the river always completes this path,” said the farmer happily.
When the topic is water conservation, Cardoso serves as an example. In order to continue promoting actions like those of the farmer, the United Nations General Assembly designated March 22 as World Water Day back in 1993. The proposal is to encourage reflection on the importance of the natural resource and think about ways to prevent its scarcity. Since then, initiatives have been promoted all over the world. One of these establishes 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation. In Brazil, the campaign was launched by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) together with the Secretary of the International Hydrological Program in December of last year.
To maintain his contributive spirit related to the environment, Cardoso was invited by the Land Conservation Organization (OCT) team to become part of the Payment for Environmental Services project (PSA – Water). The farmer began to receive payment for allowing the OCT technicians to complete work on his property to conserve the source, in addition to orienting him as to the most adequate methods for such. “With the knowledge I am acquiring, I have been able to more easily influence my colleagues and neighbors about the importance of living in respect of nature,” he said.
OCT is one of the institutions associated with the Development and Integrated Growth Program with Sustainability for the Southern Bahia Lowlands Environmental Protection Areas Mosaic – PDCIS, supported by the Odebrecht Foundation in partnership with the government and private initiative that operates in the environmental area.