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Paulo Roberto Fran‡a, Division of Environment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, described the problem of desertification in the northeast 11% of Brazilian territory, where rainfall distribution patterns are irregular and the land has a low capacity for retaining water. Drought in the region has reduced food production, disrupted the rural life and economy, increased child mortality, malnutrition and chronic disease. He added that Brazil is devising an integrated programme to combat this problem but it is essential that drought and environmental degradation issues are incorporated into development policies.

Valdemar Rodrigues, Secretario Municipal de Medio Ambiente de Teresina, Piau´┐Ż, made a presentation on the degradation of marginal lands in a semi-arid region in northeastern Brazil. He referred to a study carried out in 1991 that drew up a plan of action to alleviate the effects of drought. The causes of degradation were identified as: short-run regional development models based on a international economic environment; the misuse of natural resources; concentrated land tenure; and high population density.