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Sanitation is essential for health, economy and development, say experts

O sanitation it is part of the strategies that make up a health-promoting environment. Water and sewage treatment is part of broad initiatives aimed at ensuring well-being and quality of life, such as access to adequate and healthy food, urban infrastructure, social assistance and access to health services.

On the second day of the Esfera Brasil Forum, held this Saturday (26), specialists debated the importance of sanitation for health, in addition to areas such as the country’s economy and development. The event is promoted by Esfera Brasil.

The second panel of the day, entitled “Sanitation: the greatest social inclusion program in the world”, mediated by journalist Christiane Pelajo, had the participation of the CEO of Trata Brasil, Luana Pretto; the CEO of Unipar, Maurício Russomano; federal deputy Felipe Rigoni (União Brasil-ES); economist and member of the government transition infrastructure group, Gabriel Galípolo and senator Wellington Dias (PT-PI).

Social impacts of sanitation

Sanitation is related to the eradication of poverty, health, quality of life and gender equality, says the CEO of Trata Brasil, Luana Pretto.

“The data show that where there is sanitation, we actually have a change in people’s lives. The reality in the country today is as follows: we have 35 million people without access to treated water and 100 million people without access to sewage collection and treatment”, he said.

The specialist claims that there is a loss of 40% of all the water produced in the country. “If we think in terms of water, we have a study by the Trata Brasil Institute which points out that if we do nothing to reduce our water losses and the planet’s temperature increases by 1°C, by the year 2040 we will need to capture 70% more water from our springs”, he warns.

Luana claims that there is a direct correlation between sanitation and quality of life “Thirty-five million people do not have access to water. Of these, nearly 50% are women. These women end up not having the same competitiveness as the others in our country”, she emphasizes.

“The universalization of sanitation can bring 1.4 trillion reais in gains for the country. These are gains that come from the reduction of health costs, productivity gains, real estate appreciation, tourism and also job creation”, he points out.

She points out that sanitation works encourage the generation of jobs and income for families.

“The investment in sanitation will make the works be carried out. It will make you hire more people, creating jobs. These people will end up buying more in the local trade, developing that trade more, generating a whole virtuous cycle in the economy by investing in something that the name itself implies: it is basic”, he says.

advances and improvements

Senator Wellington Dias addressed strategies adopted by the state of Piauí in the search for improvements in basic sanitation infrastructure

“In the state of Piauí, we have 19 contracts in public-private partnerships, 3.4 billion reais in investments, there is a large portfolio for the coming years […] We work with two concepts: how to improve the life of the population and, at the same time, in these different models of partnerships, how to guarantee that we can also have an impact in relation to the reduction of expenses in the state: greater efficiency, better quality of services and less expenses,” he said.

According to Dias, a sub-concession modeling was carried out in which the state also took part. “In this model, we work in Teresina, the capital of Piauí, there we had a very big delay, only 18% of the city with sanitation, the sewer system and adequate treatment, this even caused serious environmental problems”, he said.

Based on this strategy, says Dias, investments were made that made it possible to advance in the universalization of the supply of treated water. “It was the first step of this work and we have also advanced and already surpassing 40% in several regions of the city”, he added.


At the meeting, deputy Felipe Rigoni tells details of his role as vice-president of the special commission that analyzed and drafted the New Sanitation Legal Framework.

“In 2019, it was the first major theme I ended up playing in the Chamber of Deputies,” he says. “What we found and wanted to solve: obviously the problem to be tackled, the 100 million Brazilians without sewage collection and treatment and the 35 million without treated water”, he added.

Rigoni points out that the work group’s evaluation identified a low investment in the sector in the country. “We found a sector that lacked a lot of investment. Ten of Brazil’s 27 states in 2019 had backtracked on sanitation coverage and all were reducing the amount of investment,” he said.

The deputy explained how the New Sanitation Legal Framework brings in its scope the extinction of the contractual model called “program contracts”.

“We ended up with the program contract, which was an automatic contract signed between the state sanitation company and the municipalities and everything will be done by bidding and concession – that is, we are actually putting the ‘rope around the neck’ of the sanitation operator, be it public or private, it will have to deliver results. You won the concession because you have investment and operating capacity. If you meet the goals, continue with the contract, if you don’t, darling, bye”, said the deputy.

Rigoni explains that this, among other measures of the new legal framework, make it possible to bring necessary investments to the area.


Gabriel Galípolo, a member of the government transition team in the area of ​​infrastructure, says that the working group is currently working on diagnosing the country’s current situation in the area of ​​sanitation.

“Sanitation is environmental sustainability, you are taking care of springs, of polluting our rivers; it’s social, like health and access to education, and it’s definitely economic sustainability. This is the calculation that needs to be done with sanitation: what is the cost of not making an investment in sanitation. Investing in sanitation is generating savings,” she said.

The economist points out that investment in sanitation is also the resolution of a “false dichotomy between the old and the modern”. “It is absurd that in 2022 we are discussing this, it is a 19th century problem, but we have the opportunity to address and respond by looking at the challenges of the new economy, the sustainable economy,” he said.

Galípolo claims that the issue should be a priority on the agenda of the government of President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT).

“I hope that sanitation will indeed be a major priority and that we will be able to face these models that seem to be more modern contracts, and that allow us to accelerate this universalization of sanitation, looking to solve problems of the 19th century, but for what must be Brazil as a protagonist of what the economy of the 21st century should be”.

Industry perspectives

Unipar, a Brazilian group that has been operating for over 50 years, is primarily active in the sanitation, civil construction, mining and pulp and paper segments, says company CEO Maurício Russomano at the event.

“The pandemic was a great challenge for our company. We serve more than 35 million people with chlorine to treat water and sewage. We couldn’t stop while people were home. The company acted with great commitment from its employees,” he says.

In the panel, Russomano addressed perspectives on sanitation from the industry’s point of view.

“We will have the challenge of investing more than 800 billion reais in the coming years to be able to fulfill the universalization of sanitation. It is a very high investment, but the economic benefit is also very high, it is more than 1.3 trillion reais according to initial calculations”, he says.

The impacts are for a series of areas, highlights the entrepreneur. “It starts from the construction of infrastructure, which are projects, architecture, contractors, mobilization, licenses. Afterwards, they have very important benefits in tourism, in the real state, in public health, among other areas, ”he says.

The businessman claims that the projects take 3 to 5 years to complete. “We need to start working today so that, when companies start building all the infrastructure, in 3 to 5 years they will have the inputs to be able to continue. It is important that we are very connected in this chain”.

Among the challenges in the area, Russomano mentioned legal security and lines of credit. “The discussion is about what we do to finance these first companies that won the bidding, but we also need financing in the ‘second tier’ for us to be able to invest in these projects, not only to deliver the products, but also products with a sustainable line”.

Source: CNN Brasil

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