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Sambodian Water Crisis & The Rashomon Effect

Principal Industrial association survey: quality of life satisfaction trending up

Source: Zé Dirceu

The former Chief of Staff to Lula turned corruption convict blasts the current state government based on a survey including questions about water security.

Not too surprisingly, the same set of facts gives rises to duelling headlines. Dirceu uses the rhetoric of moral panic. The trade association that contributed to the survey — above — reports an “improvement” in the perception of quality of life where there is actually a technical tie within the margin of error.

Dirceu, still an important voice in the Workers Party, naturally portrays the PT mayor, Fernando Haddad, as an agent of change and quality.

Geraldo Alckmin, the state governor of São Paulo, and his political strategists, in pursuing a strategy of absolute silence regarding the water crisis, has obviously never read the famous maxim of Abraham Lincoln: «You can fool all the people some of the time; you can fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all the people all  the time.»

This was a tactic that Alckmin used during the recent election, in which he was elected for his fourth term, and continues to use: making himself scarce and avoiding interviews in order to avoid having to admit that rationing is upon us.fecomercio

It got you nowhere, Governor. No fewer that 90% of São Paulo residents blame the state government — your government, Mr. Alckmin — and Sabesp, the state-controlled water and sewer company for the scarcity of water in the capital city and the greater metro area. Blaming Saint Peter and the drought did nothing to [restore your credibility.]

Now, according to a recent poll, nearly every São Paulo resident and the residents of 40 townships that make up the greater metro area — 9 of 10 — knows that the lack of water is the responsibility of the state governor.

This 90% is something of a mystery.

Ex-governor José Serra, recently elected senator for the São Paulo PSDB, failed to adopt the measures recommended in 2009, during his administration, to prevent arriving at this juncture.

Alckmin, Serra’s successor, pretended that it was not his problem, and that he was not informed of the problem.

42% say problem was a lack of planning

The study indicates that 90% of residents of the greater metro area know that the state government is to blame. The data is from the sixth edition of IRBEM: Municipal Indices of Well-Being conducted by Rede Nossa São Paulo and FECOMÉRCIO – an NGO and an association whose independence no one questions. Carried out between November 14 and December 8 of 2014, the survey heard 1,512 São Paulo residents. The margin of error is three percentage points, more or less.

More: 42% of interview subjects believe that water scarcity has reached its current state because of lack of planning by the Toucan administration. Tgivinghe Rede Nossa São Paulo/FECOMÉRCIO survey also shows that 8 in 10 paulistanos see a high probability that the water supply will give out.

Based on this frightening scenario, 57% of citizens polled said they would leave São Paulo if they could. This index is trending upwards: in the same survey, conducted last year, the number of subjects inclined to leave the city was 55%.

The editorialist begins using an apocalyptic vocabulary.

Faced with this desolate scenario, fear of which is gripping the population, and the lack of better prospects, given the inertia of the state government, the mayor of São Paulo, Fernando Haddad, is organizing a meeting with townships supplied by  SABESP in the metro area and the State Secretary of Water Resources, Benedito Braga.

Haddad takes the lead and seeks alternatives

The meeting is expected to produce alternatives for combating the water crisis. “We have not yet had a chance to sit down with the Secretary and the mayors of cities served by Sabesp in order to align our efforts,” the mayor told Agência Brasil, in an interview.

The federal government has also called a meeting for Friday among eight ministers to discuss the imminent lack of water in São Paulo and other states. Minister Izabella Teixeira (Environment) left the meeting calling on the population to immediately adopt methods to save water and reduce consumption.

Fecomercio Summary

In the survey, the average score attributed [to quality of life] by the subjects was 5.1, representing a very small improvement in relation to the 2013 edition of the survey, when the figure stood at 4.8.

This “very modest improvement” — within the margin of error — winds up as the main headline.

The index remains below the mean score on this scale, which varies from 1 to 10, however.

IRBEM covers 25 topics, between those related to the objective conditions of life in the city – health, education, environment, housing  and labor – and those related to subjective factors such as sexuality, spirituality, consumption and leisure.


For the first time, the survey included questions about the crisis in the water supply. According to 82% of the subjects, the city runs a significant risk of going without water for long periods in the months to come. Another 13% consider the risk negligible and only 3% believe the problem will not occur.

Asked who was chiefly responsible for the crisis, 42% attributed it to lack of planning by the state government (or governor) of São Paulo. Some 29% see the problem as caused by lack of rain … while 15% blame lack of planning by Sabesp.

I do not have the full text of the report, but given what I have read, I am dubious about that 90%.

Screenshot from 2015-01-27 14:55:39