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Competing claims complicate land ownership for Brazil's slave descendants

Competing claims complicate land ownership for Brazil's slave descendants

Every morning, Valdemir Francisco da Conceicao takes a short walk from his straw-roofed house with a bucket to take water from a river that flows through the lush mountains of Brazil's Goias state.

Vao de Almas, his remote village has no running water but da Conceicao doesn't mind - he enjoys his simple life as a farmer, planting cassava, corn and rice on his smallholding.

Da Conceicao is a quilombola, one of 16 million Brazilians descended from runaway slaves, who fled harsh working conditions on their masters' farms and mines and formed communities known as quilombos.

Vao de Almas' rural idyll is threatened by plans to build a hydroelectric power dam that backers say will generate electricity and jobs in the region, a vast area of wilderness some 220 miles (354 km) north of the capital Brasilia.

Da Conceicao is worried the dam will make it impossible for him to access water from the river and that any potential safety problems with the dam could threaten his children's safety.

"We wash, we take water to cook, we take a bath, we depend on the river for everything," the 37-year-old told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Read the story on: http://www.thisisplace.org/i/?id=3792da94-65d8-4be2-bfcb-15c60c87f1ee

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