Background Gradient

Brazil

Brazil is the largest country in South America and is rich in water resources. Located on the Atlantic coast of South America, it is home to most of the Amazon basin as well as its tropical forest, one of the richest areas in water in the world. However, Brazil's vast geographic area results in a variable climate and unequal access to water resources throughout the country, creating a number of challenges in water management.

A rich source of information for measuring the current state of access to water and sanitation are household surveys. Throughout Latin America and the Carribean, household surveys provide us with representative data of the entire population, validated by statistical institutes, that allow cross-checking with other social statistics such as area, income, and gender breakdowns. The data on this page relies heavily on the 2019 National Survey by Continuous Household Sample which surveyed 151,979 representative households and collected data on water access and sanitation. The survey collects some water and sanitation metrics in accordance with the WHO / UNICEF guidelines. However, the survey does not allow the correct measurement of non-piped improved water sources or address whether latrines are improved or unimproved.

For more information on why OLAS uses household surveys, click here.

Data Sources:
Methodology:

Progress Towards Measuring SDG 6

Sociodemography

Access to water and sanitation in Brazil varies significantly between urban and rural areas, with urban households enjoying much higher access rates. Approximately 15% of Brazilians live in rural areas.

Inequality in Brazil is evident when viewing the income quintiles of the country’s 2019 household survey. The inhabitants of households in the top quintile obtain an average income 19.8 times higher than that of the bottom quintile.

Average monthly household income by quintile (in local currency 2019)

Population

Urbanization rate

Rural

Urban

Water access

Water access

Most Brazilians live in urban areas with high rates of access to improved water sources, while Brazilians living in rural communities face more challenges. The gap between urban and rural is the strongest indicator of having piped water, since 93% of urban households have piped water (to the home or plot). In contrast, only 34% of rural households have piped water (to the home or plot).

Split data by:

Water Access Data by Quintile and Access Area

The above sankey diagram shows water access data broken down by by location of water access (urban/rural), income quintile and type of water access. When hovering over the diagram, the number displayed shows the ratio of respondents that fit into the category on the right that come from the category on the left.

Sanitation Access

Sanitation Access

97% of Brazilian households have access to exclusive sanitation facilities of some kind. Most Brazilians enjoy access to sanitation facilities connected to sewers (60%), however, in rural areas only 5% are connected to sewers and 48% to septic tanks, so the rest depend on latrines, both improved and unimproved. In turn, 4% of the rural population does not have access to any type of sanitary facilities.

Split data by:

Sanitation Data by Quintile and Access Area

The above sankey diagram shows sanitation access data broken down by community, income quintile and type of facility. When hovering over the diagram, the number displayed shows the ratio of respondents that fit into the category on the right that come from the category on the left.

Water Resources

Water Resources

Water Availability

It is estimated that Brazil has about 12% of the planet’s freshwater availability. However, the distribution is not homogeneous. The North region concentrates approximately 80% of the available water, but represents only 5% of the Brazilian population. While the Northeast, with 29% of the population, has 3% of the water; and the Southeast, with 43% of the population, has only 6%. The Amazon River alone contains 80% of the country’s water. Agriculture consumes about 60% of Brazil’s water, while households account for 22% and industries 19% of consumption. The demand for water use in Brazil has grown by about 80% in total water withdrawn in the last two decades.

Water Stress

Brazil is classified as a low water stressed country . However, there are a significant number of individual watersheds with medium-high water stress. Between 2013 and 2016, 48 million people were affected by droughts (long-lasting or transitory) and 7,7 million Brazilians by different types of floods. The causes are related to: the large seasonal (time-space) variation of rainfall throughout the country, the social and economic development models adopted as a result of the development of the national productive force in the face of the expansion of the economy to international markets, and the widespread degradation of available natural resources.

Wastewater Treatment

In Brazil, 43% of the population has wastewater collected and treated. The associated problem is the discharge of these effluents without treatment into water bodies, thus compromising the quality and uses of water, generating detrimental effects on public health and the balance of the environment.

Water and Sanitation Management

Water and Sanitation Management

Institutional Framework

Brazil has the National Water Resources Management System, Sistema Nacional de Gerenciamento de Recursos Hídricos (SINGREH) which corresponds to the set of bodies and collegiate bodies that conceives and implements the National Water Policy and its main function is to manage water uses in a democratic and participatory manner. The National Water Resources Council, Conselho Nacional de Recursos Hídricos (CNRH) occupies the highest level in the SINGREH hierarchy and is made up of representatives from: Ministries and Secretariats of the Presidency of the Republic; State Water Resources Councils; water resources users and civil organizations of water resources.

Regulatory Framework

In Brazil, the Federal Constitution, Constituição da República Federativa do Brasil of 1988:

  • i) establishes water as an asset of the Federal States and of the Unions and
  • ii) authorizes giving priority to the economic and social use of rivers and bodies of water in low-income regions with periodic droughts.

In addition, the country has specific regulations for the water and sanitation sector such as: the National Water Resources Policy (PNRH) established by the Water Law No. 9,433 of 1997 and the Basic Sanitation Law No. 11,445 of 2007, amended and supplemented by the New Legal Framework for Sanitation, Law No. 14,026 of 2020.

Among other related regulations are:

  • Regulation of Law No. 11.445 of 2007 (Decree No. 7217 of 2010)
  • New Legal Framework for Sanitation (Law No. 14.026 of 2020)

Development Programs and Plans

The set of guidelines, goals and programs established in the PNRH was approved by the National Water Resources Council (CNRH) on January 30, 2006 and has as its objectives: the improvement of water availability, surface and groundwater, in quality and quantity; the reduction of actual and potential conflicts in water use, as well as critical hydrological events and the perception of water conservation as a relevant socio-environmental value. The PNRH 2022-2040 is currently being prepared.

Related Resources

ACERTAR

Acertar was created as an alternative to improve the quality of information on basic sanitation in Brazil. Its name means: “A” for audit, “CERT” for certification and “AR” for regulatory agencies. The platform proposes the standardized execution of auditing and certification of data from the National Sanitation Information System (SNIS) by regulatory agencies, making them more solid and reliable.

National Sanitation Information System (SNIS)

It is a unit linked to the National Sanitation Secretariat (SNS) of the Ministry of Regional Development (MDR). With national coverage, it collects institutional, administrative, operational, managerial, economic-financial, accounting and quality information on the provision of basic sanitation services in urban areas in the four components of basic sanitation.