Fighting against, and coping with, drought in Brazil: two policy paradigms intertwined

Louise Cavalcante*, Art Dewulf, Pieter van Oel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In northeast Brazil, fight-against-drought and cope-with-drought have been identified as two different drought policy paradigms. This article aims to examine the persistence, coexistence, intertwining, and evolution of these drought policy paradigms by studying how they inform national policy responses in human-water systems. The questions guiding our research are what do the paradigms of fight-against-drought and cope-with-drought consist of and how did the competing paradigms develop over time? To address these, the research draws on a systematic analysis of policy documents, multiannual strategic plans from 2000 to 2020 (the most recently published), and interviews with key informants. This study found the paradigms evolved with the persistence of the fight-against-drought paradigm with incremental changes of the cope-with-drought. The coexistence of paradigms started in 2004 and was in 2016 that the persistence, coexistence and intertwining of both were established. We use two theories, Hall’s (1993) policy and Lindblom’s (1959, 1979) incrementalism for analyzing the influences drought policy paradigms in human-water systems. This study provides new insights to understand the role of ideas in policy processes empirically showing how drought policy paradigms gradually evolve influencing policy responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2022


  • Brazil
  • Drought
  • Incrementalism
  • Policy paradigms


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