The Trajectories of Women and Environmental Justice Along Brazil's Coast

Eliane in the mangroves
Brazil

The Trajectories of Women and Environmental Justice Along Brazil's Coast

Cirandeiras Podcast's "Oceans" Season

The ocean is a major regulator of the climate system, according to researchers at the Oceanographic Institute of the University of São Paulo, in Brazil. The large volume and the high thermal capacity of water combine to reduce temperature differences and create an environment conducive to life on earth. Tackling climate change is critical for the oceans and protecting them is also critical for the regulation of the planet's climate.
 
However, some economically productive activities have blown against this tide, generating impacts and changing the lifestyles of Brazilian populations that are guardians of these waters, such as traditional communities of artisanal fishers. The seas have suffered a lot from the development of large infrastructure projects under the guise of progress and achieving clean energy.

Audio file
"Oceans" season audio intro.

The Cirandeiras podcast will narrate individual trajectories of Black and poor women in diverse locations and how their stories align with the collective struggles of other women across the five regions of Brazil. In its current season “Oceans,” this format continues, highlighting the often-silenced voices of women affected by major development projects.
 
The season proposes a debate about the abusive action of transnational companies, and also of governments, in their violation of human, environmental and civil rights. Each of the three episodes will last about 40 minutes each and will contextualize the socio-environmental impacts of industrial, petrochemical and mining activities in the oceans, based on the testimony of three artisanal fisherwomen.

The first episode presents the impacts of the toxic mud from the Fundão dam, owned by the Samarco mining company. The dam burst in 2019 and reached the beaches of Espírito Santo state, completely changing the lives of many coastal communities. The second episode discusses the Suape Port and Industrial Complex, in Pernambuco state, designed and constructed in the 1970s, during the military dictatorship in Brazil. The Suape Port and Industrial Complex have been threatening marine life and deepening socio-economic inequalities ever since. The third episode will address the consequences of the oil spill that also occurred in 2019, in the state of Ceará. In addition to community leaders, the podcast team spoke with representatives of public agencies, governments, foundations and civil society organizations to collect data and other information.

Episode #1: "Mud at Sea With Eliane Balke"

Cirandeiras is back with its third season entitled “Oceans,” which will sail through seas that have been affected by human exploitation in mega-development projects in Brazil.

In this first episode, we talked to Eliane Balke, a resident of the community of Barra Nova Sul, on the island of Campo Grande (São Mateus, Espírito Santo). Eliane is 54 years old and a daughter and granddaughter of crab collectors. She learned from her family how to fish and to collect crustaceans.

She used to live in a land of abundance on the coast of Espírito Santo, until 2015, when her life was altered by mud flows emanating from the rupture of the Fundão dam, owned by the Samarco mining company, in Mariana, Minas Gerais.

Everything changed. 

Fresh and salt water were part of her identity; her community relationships were intertwined with the mangrove and the sea. Now, rose pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia) cultivation has become an alternative for her in order to generate income, as the disaster compensation process hasn't begun yet, almost seven years after the initial dam collapse. The sea can no longer be her workplace because it was contaminated by the mining company's tailings.


This podcast episode was produced with support from Internews' Earth Journalism Network and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch). It was originally aired on May 17, 2022. 

Banner image: Eliane Balke / Credit: Cirandeiras Podcast.

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