HWISE-RCN August Scholar of the Month: Dr. Paula Tomaz

Paula Tomaz, who earned a Ph.D. in Geography (2019) from the Federal University of Ceara (Fortaleza, Brazil), wrote her dissertation on household water insecurity in a small town in the semiarid region of Northeast Brazil during drought.  Her work, which included qualitative and quantitative methods, assessed governance of regional water systems, measuring and evaluating water insecurity in rural and urban areas, and assessing the role of social vulnerability to household water insecurity. Her work contributed to a new approach to household water insecurity in Brazil, engaging debates on human development and water, which goes beyond discussions related to large water infrastructures, planning, and resource management. Her study also highlighted the effects of public and social policies on water infrastructure and access to water in the Brazilian semiarid region.

Dr. Tomaz’s research interest addresses key debates in household water insecurity. She applied various methods of analysis (qualitative and quantitative) and approaches. She is particularly interested in studying in semi-arid regions and in public and social policies on access to water developed for these regions.

She currently works as a post-doctoral researcher on the project “Urban Water Provisioning Systems and Household Water Security in Northeast Brazil” under the supervision of Dr. Jepson, analyzing the database (1500 households) on water insecurity in several representative communities in the Brazilian Northeast. The current focus is on building a scale of household water insecurity for this region, and soon they will be publishing work on other aspects of the project, including photovoice.

Dr. Tomaz also joined the project led by Dr. Leila Harris(University of British Columbia), with Wendy Jepson as a supervisor, on the non-material dimensions of water insecurity. Dr. Tomaz is the Brazil site PI. Drawing on experience with social cartography and photovoice, she will conduct collaborative research activities in two coastal communities where subsistence fishing and other extractive activities utilize a range of water resources, in particular, inter-dunal freshwater lakes. These understudied blues spaces also offer insight into the important cultural and spiritual relations to local communities.  With climate change and tourism pressure, her work will address the importance of these spaces for human wellbeing.


Jepson, W., P. Tomaz, and J de Oliveira Santos (submitted) “Rural and urban household water insecurity in Northeast Brazil” Water International

Tomaz, P, W. Jepson, J. de Oliveira Santos (2020) “Urban household water insecurities from the margins: Perspectives from Northeast Brazil” The Professional Geographer https://doi.org/10.1080/00330124.2020.1750439.

Tomaz, P. A., Gorayeb, P., Santos, J. O., Gorayeb, A. (2018) “Erosividade da chuva na Bacia de Drenagem do Açude Forquilha, Ceará, Brasil: contribuição ao manejo ambiental.” In: Planejamento urbano de bacias hidrográficas. Silva, E. V., Carvalho., R. G. 1ed.Mossoró: EDUERN, 2018, v. 1, p. 216-225.

Tomaz, P. A., Santos, J. O. Gorayeb, A. (2018) “A Degradação Ambiental da Bacia de Drenagem do Açude Forquilha, Ceará.” In: A Geografia Aplicada ao Semiárido Cearense: Desafios e Perspectivas. Oliveira, V. P. V., Sousa, M. L. M. 1ed. Fortaleza: Expressão Gráfica e Editora, 2018, v. 1, p. 279-300.