Brazil: IFAD to invest in strengthening the climate resilience of more than 75,000 rural households in Pernambuco

Recife - June 27, 2024 ( Last Thursday, the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) and the Government of the State of Pernambuco presented the activities of Sertão Vivo in Pernambuco. This project, which promotes climate resilience and poverty reduction in the Northeast region of Brazil, was also co-financed by the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

Thanks to a joint investment of R$300 million (roughly US$60 million), more than 75,000 vulnerable rural households in the State of Pernambuco will have an opportunity to improve their ability to cope with and respond to the effects of climate change and thereby achieve sustainable management of Brazil's semi arid region.

"The project's agroecological approach is designed to preserve the caatinga biome and guarantee access to water. Smallholder farmers in Pernambuco will have an opportunity to increase their income – in part, thanks to new technologies tailored to climate change that will enable them to boost their yields," said Raquel Lyra, Governor of Pernambuco.

Pernambuco is the second of the nine semi-arid states in northeast Brazil where Sertão Vivo will be implemented and the most climate-vulnerable territory in all of Latin America. Thanks to an additional contribution from BNDES, total financing for the project increased from the R$1 billion (US$217 million) planned for four states to R$1.775 billion (US$386 million). Sertão Vivo will prioritize the participation of women, youth and traditional groups such as Indigenous and Quilombola (Afro-descendant) communities and is expected to reach 1.8 million people.

According to Aloizio Mercadante, President of BNDES, with the complement to the initial sum, the financial institution is reaffirming its commitment to tackling the climate crisis, the effects of which are becoming increasingly frequent and intense in Brazil. "This new contribution will enable the benefits of the project - including the preservation of the caatinga, the region's main biome - to reach every state in the Northeast," he explained.

Rossana Polastri, IFAD Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, underscored the importance of family farming, which produces 70 per cent of the food that reaches Brazilians' tables and employs three quarters of agricultural workers, according to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). "It is critical that we help smallholder farmers increase their resilience and productivity in the context of climate change, while at the same time promoting new forms of sustainable production. Family farming can and should play a key role in reducing hunger and poverty in the country," said Polastri.

For IFAD, this initiative represents a new operational model for rural poverty reduction. Sertão Vivo combines major financing from different sources with investments centred on the environment and the fight against climate change. This joint financing will make it possible to build or rehabilitate small-scale infrastructure for water security, including production cisterns, whose effectiveness in IFAD-supported projects in the region has been demonstrated for decades. In addition, efficient water capture, storage and usage practices will be adopted to ensure that crops can withstand irregular precipitation patterns and prolonged droughts.

Sertão Vivo will also promote the creation of integrated agroforestry systems that incorporate or create crop structures for different purposes in the same zone and increase the carbon content of soil, and thus, its fertility.

Challenges in Pernambuco

Sertão Vivo is arriving at a critical time for food security in Brazil. According to PENSSAN, the Brazilian academic network, more than half the country's population experienced food insecurity at some point in 2022. Some 63 per cent of those affected lived in rural areas.

In Pernambuco, "in 2013, 46.4 per cent of Pernambuco households experienced some degree of food and nutrition insecurity. That same year, almost one out of every four children (23.8 per cent) in Pernambuco suffered from chronic malnutrition. Likewise, according to the IBGE, in 2022 around one third of Pernambuco's population suffered from food insecurity. It is therefore estimated that some 5 per cent of the state's population - that is, more than 450,000 people - suffer from severe food insecurity," according to the Government of the State of Pernambuco.

Despite the fight against rural poverty, "the majority of family farmers in Pernambuco have a monthly household income of less than two minimum wage salaries. Lack of basic infrastructure, prolonged droughts and lack of quality education have exacerbated rural poverty for decades in Pernambuco. The highest rural poverty indices in the state are concentrated in the semi-arid region," declared the Government of the State of Pernambuco, based on data from the Agricultural Census of 2017.

IFAD in Brazil

IFAD has been investing in Brazil's rural population since 1980 with the goal of increasing the income of smallholder farmers, strengthening cooperatives, fostering collective development and promoting new markets for family farming and sociobiodiverse products.

To date, the Fund has invested US$297 million to cofinance 13 projects with a total value of US$1.180 billion, in which 615,400 families have participated.

Press contact:

Bruna Ribeiro de Souza /

No.: IFAD/49/2024

IFAD is an international financial institution and a United Nations specialized agency. Based in Rome - the United Nations food and agriculture hub - IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided more than US$24 billion in grants and low-interest loans to fund projects in developing countries.

A wide range of photographs and broadcast-quality video content of IFAD's work in rural communities are available for download from our Image Bank.

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