How clean water data is helping to protect Brazil’s precious ecosystems

Fresh water is an essential resource. Brazil has more than any other country but millions of its people still don’t have access to clean and safe water sources.

Sewage, run-off and industrial pollution contaminate many of the rivers that flow through Brazil’s Atlantic Forest region. This vast area, stretching from Natal in the north to the borders with Paraguay and Argentina in the south, is home to the country’s biggest cities and the majority of its urban population.

Poor-quality water can bring disease, exacerbate poverty and hamper economic development – and the harmful effects aren’t restricted to humans. The Atlantic Forest region includes endangered ecosystems that are some of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world. Some 20,000 varieties of plants and hundreds of species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish live in habitats ranging from dense mangroves to high grasslands.

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Since 1986, SOS Mata Atlantica has been working to protect these ecosystems and the people of the Atlantic Forest. As part of its clean water initiative, 3,500 volunteers monitor 250 rivers, continually testing water quality and logging their results.

In this video, volunteers explain how a grant from Microsoft’s AI for Earth program will help them gather and share data in order to influence public policy and preserve a vital resource.

For more on how Microsoft is putting cloud and AI tools in the hands of those working to solve global environmental challenges, visit AI for Earth. And follow @MSFTIssues on Twitter

Photograph: Adriano Gambarini/RUN Studios for Microsoft