The history of the Brazilian Northeast is undeniably connected to the region’s adverse climatic conditions. For decades, one of Brazil’s poorest regions was haunted by droughts – it has the lowest rainfall in the country. Most of the region is covered by the caatinga, a desert-like biome.
Droughts form such an integral part of the region that the late writer Guimarães Rosa once wrote that Northeastern people are “arid, hard, and dry – just like their land.” Droughts were the primary reason for multiple southbound migrations in the 20th century. And now, those migrations are happening again.
Official data reveals that Brazil may be experiencing its worst drought cycle in over a century, as the region braces itself for its 7th consecutive year of insufficient rainfall. Almost 100 percent of the region has been affected by severe droughts, and half of Northeastern cities have declared states of emergency. The last time the region experienced six consecutive years of droughts was between 1979 and 1983 – but even back then, it rained more than it is now.