Graham Sustainability Institute

Climate-resilient Pathways of Household Transformation in Northeast Brazil

U-M Investigators

Maria Carmen Lemos – School for Environment and Sustainability


Martin Obermaier – Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Project Summary

This research by Lemos and Obermaier continues previous work supported by the U-M/Brazil Partnership, in which the collaborators integrated existing databases and completed comparative analyses related to sustainability and adaptation to climate-driven impacts in Brazil’s northeast region. In this study, they examined relationships among climate impacts, poverty, and social reform,  specifically examining how poverty-reduction programs such as Brazil’s La Bolsa Familia program, which provides a conditional cash allowance to families with school-age children so long as children attend school and receive basic health care, affect livelihood profiles. Using in-depth interviews and personal observations, they assessed the following research questions:

  • How has poverty reduction policy and interventions through the Bolsa Família Program shaped young people’s livelihoods in rural NE Brazil? How has it affected their choices relative to their livelihood paths?
  • What are the impacts of these transformative processes on the social and environmental sustainability of small holding agriculture in NE Brazil?

Information gathered will contribute to scholarship and policy-making efforts focused on reducing vulnerability of rural populations to climate change. 

This project received a $29,750 UM-Brazil Sustainability Cooperation Grant in 2015.